Our resident NBA handicapping professional breaks down the Eastern Conference Finals series between Cleveland and Atlanta. This insightful betting article concludes with his selection on who will win the series.
NBA Eastern Conference Finals Series Price
The Eastern Conference Finals is set with the top two seeds ready to clash. Atlanta will host Cleveland in the first two games of the series with the opener scheduled for Wednesday. According to the NBA betting odds at Bookmaker, Cleveland is -230 and Atlanta +195 to win the series. The early betting trends indicate that 58% of the money wagered has been on Cleveland to win the series.
Head to Head Meetings
After being blown out at Cleveland 127-94 on 11/15/2014, Atlanta won and covered each of the next three meetings versus the Cavaliers. In those three wins, Atlanta shot an outstanding 55.2% from the field and averaged 114.0 points scored per game. Three of four encounters between these teams this season went over the total. Cleveland made a combined 53 three-points shots in the four regular season games versus Atlanta, and converted on a red-hot 41.1% of their attempts from long distance.
Home and Away Splits
Atlanta has been terrific on their home floor going a combined 40-7 (.851) during the regular season and playoffs. They’ve gone 5-1 during the 2015 postseason at the Phillips Arena in Atlanta, and are 4-2 under the total in those contests. The Hawks have also been solid on the road with a 28-19 record, and that includes 3-3 during the playoffs.
The Cleveland Cavaliers have gone a combined 26-20 on the road, and that includes a stellar 4-1 during the postseason. They’ve also gone 26-19-1 under the total in those forty-seven road tilts, including 4-1 under during the playoffs. Cleveland has also gone an impressive 35-11 in home games this season, including 4-1 during the playoffs, and 27-19 under the number at the Quicken Loans Arena.
Stout Cavaliers Defense in the Playoffs
The Cleveland Cavaliers have definitely turned up the defensive intensity during the playoffs. Cleveland is allowing 92.6 points per game, holding opponents to just 40.8% shooting from the field, and that includes 30.8% from beyond the three point line in ten postseason contests. As a matter of fact, during their last five games of their series win over Washington, the Wizards averaged only 89.6 points per contest, and shot a miserable 38.2% from the floor.
Hawks playing at a quicker Tempo in the Playoffs
The Atlanta Hawks played at a fairly normal tempo this season, averaging 82 field goal attempts per game while their opponents averaged 82 per outing. It’s been a much different story during their twelve playoff games. The Hawks are averaging a robust 87 field goal attempts per outing, and opponents are at 85 per contest. However, it’s been proven they can play at any tempo, but they’re certainly more comfortable at a slower pace than what’s been exhibited in the playoffs.
The health of Kyrie Irving heading into this conference final is of utmost concern, especially in light of the fact that Kevin Love was lost for the season during the Boston series. When Irving is healthy, he provides a viable offensive threat which in turn opens up more opportunities for LeBron James.
The Hawks have earned home court advantage by having the best record in the Eastern Conference during the regular season. I’ve already alluded to their home court dominance during the 2014-2015 NBA campaign, and with the exception of the series opener versus Washington have maintained that at playoff time. In what I believe to be a lot closer call than the series price would indicate, the Hawks confident and successful play at home may turn out to be the deciding difference. I’m going to side with the top seed in the East to win this series for one of my NBA picks.
NBA Pick: Atlanta +195 to win the series over Cleveland at Bookmaker.