Cleveland looks for the 4-game sweep against the Atlanta Hawks. The question is whether Atlanta play with the same pride exhibited by Houston on Monday night and cover the NBA odds.
Atlanta Hawks vs. Cleveland Cavaliers (-8) 8:30 ET TNT TV
Tonight at 8:30 pm ET as televised on TNT TV, Cleveland looks for the 4-game sweep against the Atlanta Hawks. This follows a (114-111) Cleveland OT win on Sunday night on this floor. Seldom is a No. 1 seed swept in 4 games of a 7-game NBA Playoff series. The question is whether NBA odds road dog Atlanta will let go of the rope or play with the same pride exhibited by Houston on Monday night in their (128-115) elimination survival against Golden St.
Sunday night was all about LeBron James! Playing without their 2nd and 3rd leading scorers, Love and Irving, LeBron James stepped up big. James missed his first 10 shots but completed the night with a line of 37 points, 18 boards and 13 dimes. Support came from an unlikely source in Dellavedova with 17 points, a total that was matched by JR Smith who also garnered 10 rebounds. Cleveland HC Blatt played only 7 players in an exhausting OT win. No one was more relieved or exhausted than James, who needed 37 shots to achieve his accomplishment. His 3 pointer with 36 seconds remaining gave the Cavs a 1 point lead. They did not surrender, after Atlanta missed a pair of 3 pointers in the final seconds for the potential tie. In his post-game interview, James related “it was mind over matter there for me. I am playing through a lot, but it doesn’t matter. If I am putting on the uniform and am on the floor, I have to make things happen for our team. It’s that simple.” That stinging indictment of his teammates does not bode well for team unity, chemistry or balance. After such a huge performance, it is improbable James has such a monumental performance with the Cavs up 3 games to 0.
Atlanta played through their own misfortunes. The Hawks are now without 3-point marksman, Korver, for the remaining of the playoffs. More importantly was the loss of Al Horford, who was their leading scorer with 14 points before being ejected in the closing minutes of the first half for a flagrant 2 foul that looked more like a routine NBA loose ball play. With the Hawks down by 10 points in the 4th quarter, Atlanta did not let go of the rope. They clawed their way back to OT and they do not figure to go away tonight. Despite the fact, no NBA team has ever overcome a 3-0 deficit. In Sunday’s game, Atlanta was led by PG Teague with 30 points, 6 boards and 7 assists. But, Millsap was also an able contributor with 22/9.
In repeating key numbers from my Sunday analysis, note that after standing 43-11 at the All Star break, Atlanta is now 25-19 SU (including just 8-7 SU in the Playoffs). Cleveland, conversely, is 45-11 SU, following a 19-20 SU start. Based on those numbers, Cleveland would be a 10 point favorite in this game (assuming Irving is available). But, Hawks showed a never say die spirit in battling back to tie the game on Sunday night. Expect a resilient performance from them, as they refuse to let go of the rope and make it easy for the Cavs to sweep.Take Atlanta with your NBA picks tonight.
NBA Pick: Hawks at Pinnacle