NBA Picks: Cavaliers vs. Hawks Total to Go 'Under' Again in Game 3

Jason Lake

Sunday, May 24, 2015 12:54 AM UTC

Sunday, May. 24, 2015 12:54 AM UTC

The Atlanta Hawks couldn't beat the Cleveland Cavaliers or the NBA odds at home. Sunday's Game 3 in Cleveland doesn't look like it'll turn out any differently.

Jason’s record as of May 22: 78-80-5 ATS, 18-19 Totals, plus-0.15 units ML, 6-2 Series (plus-4.0 units)

Oh, those crazy Atlanta Hawks. They've burned us twice against the spread in this Eastern Conference final against the Cleveland Cavaliers. But at least in doing so, the Hawks have helped the UNDER cash in twice for us. They shot 4-of-23 from downtown in Game 1, and they shot 6-of-26 from downtown in Game 2. Clang-a-lang-a-ding-dong.

We've got even more reason to keep pounding the UNDER in Game 3 Sunday night (8:30 p.m. ET, TNT). Kyle Korver looks very iffy for the Hawks after spraining his right ankle in Game 2. Al Horford also got his right knee banged up real good, although he's more likely to play on Sunday. And Kyrie Irving is a big question mark for Cleveland after sitting out Friday's game with a troublesome left knee. Welcome to the playoffs.

There is one problem with our cunning plan: The total for Game 3 has dropped all the way to 190 points on the NBA odds board as we go to press. That's down from 199.5 points in Game 1, and 193 points on the closing line for Game 2, after Irving was announced as a late scratch. Should we proceed as planned anyway?

Click here for another NBA Pick for Game 3 between the Hawks and the Cavaliers 

Sweet Sassy Molassey
Probably. We don't have definitive word on the status of any of the three aforementioned injured players, but the way things went down in Game 2, it might not affect our decision much. The two teams had another slow-as-molasses game on Friday, operating at a Pace Factor of 86.9. LeBron James (25.9 PER) was a bit more efficient this time with 30 points on 10-of-22 shooting, but there were still more misses than makes, even with DeMarre Carroll (15.9 PER) playing at less than 100 percent for Atlanta.

The styles these two teams play suggest there'll be another low-scoring affair on Sunday, even if everyone in question is able to suit up. At some point, however, those 3-pointers are going to start finding the net for the Hawks. We'd feel more confident about keeping the UNDER in our basketball picks if we knew that Korver (49.2 percent on threes) wasn't going to play. But Korver's down to 35.5 percent for the playoffs, and quite frankly, this whole team was off-kilter way before the Conference Finals.


Bird Flu
It's been difficult as a basketball fan to watch the Hawks fall apart over the past couple of months. None of their four All-Stars is playing the way he did earlier in the year. Paul Millsap has seen his PER drop from 20.0 during the regular season to 15.8 in these playoffs. Part of that is because of increased competition, but Millsap just hasn't been the same since he hurt his shoulder in April.

Korver has likewise cooled off, falling from 14.8 PER to 11.2 PER as his shooting touch has abandoned him. Jeff Teague (20.6 PER to 16.8 PER) has reverted from All-Star level back to where he was before this year. Only Horford (21.4 PER to 20.2 PER) has managed to keep it together somewhat, and now he's been put through the wringer, too. Horford had ice packs on both his knees following Game 2. He might as well have them surgically implanted at this point.

It's possible that the Hawks will regain their form on Sunday – or that the Cavaliers will take advantage of those injuries and go ballistic on offense. We'll take our chances with the UNDER anyway. We've already seen it cash in twice despite James hitting the 30-point mark, and despite his backcourt teammates taking turns at lighting it up from downtown. No point in changing our NBA pick until things change on the court – or the total falls well into the 180s.

Free NBA Pick: Take UNDER 190 at 5Dimes

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