NBA Picks: Hawks Will Try To De-Throne The King In Eastern Semifinals

Kevin Stott

Monday, May 2, 2016 11:00 AM UTC

Monday, May. 2, 2016 11:00 AM UTC

The Eastern Conference Semifinals tip off on Monday as The Hawks travel to Quicken Loans Arena to face LeBron and top-seeded Cavaliers in Game 1. Read on for a free NBA Pick on the game.

LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers on are on track to defend their Eastern Conference crown after disposing of the Detroit Pistons in Round 1. Now it’s the Atlanta Hawks turn to see if they can de-throne the King when the Semifinals Round series in this conference tips off on Monday night at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland.

Let’s see how these two did head-to-head in the Regular Season, over the L10 meetings and weigh any Trends, Streaks, Injuries and some potential Emotional angles and come up with an NBA pick for a game which would be brutal for the Home team to lose after working so hard to earn the Homecourt Advantage over the NBA Regular Season.


Odds Overview
Offshore oddsmakers have made the host Cavaliers solid 7½ point favorites at Heritage for this Game 1 with the Total (Points) at set at 200½ (BetOnline).

The Money Line (Winner) odds see Cleveland priced at -340 at Bookmaker, with the Hawks lined at +275 on the takeback as the Road underdogs. The First Half odds see the Cavaliers as 4-point chalks (BetOnline) with the First Half Total set at 97½ (Over -115, BetOnline). Cleveland is are priced at +625 to win the Series (Price) with Atlanta priced at +460 on the takeback ( Cleveland swept the Regular Season series, 3-0.


Atlanta Hawks
The 4th-seeded Atlanta Hawks (42-39-1 ATS Regular Season) and Head Coach Mike Budenholzer caught a huge break early on in their Eastern Conference Semifinals series with the Boston Celtics when SG Avery Bradley injured himself and went out for the series. And although the Hawks (+900 to win Eastern Conference at SportsBetting) may have saved themselves from having to play a Game 7, this team is in as good a position to upset Cleveland here in the Semifinals but that will obviously mean having to win a game (or two) here on the Road in Cleveland at The Q, And one key matchup in this series for Budenholzer and the Hawks (+4000 to win NBA championship, Pinnacle) will be the matchup at the Center position between the Hawks Al Horford and the Cavaliers Tristan Thompson.

If Horford can impose enough of a presence and provide 12+ points a game, Atlanta could have a chance, but that will also mean that PF Paul Millsap and SF Kent Bazemore will have to attack the Glass and give Horford some cover in the Paint but that’s so much easier said than done when you’re expending Energy trying to cover (and being covered by) Kevin Love and LeBron James. Atlanta will have to have everyone that can score scoring here, and luckily enough for them they have an evolved-enough Roster to hang with Cleveland, but probably one with only even a slim chance of winning twice in this series. PG Jeff Teague will be a big key for Atlanta as will the shooting and open looks for SG Kyle Korver, but if Teague gets frustrated early on (in the series) and Korver is struggling, the Cavaliers could make quick work of the Hawks and earn some (more) Rest for a potential Eastern Conference Finals series which may end up being a whole lot easier than we all envisioned back in October.

But if Reserves Mike Scott,Dennis Schroeder and Thabo Sefolosha can combine for 20 points or so a game here through this series and role players like Tim Hardaway Jr., Kirk Hinrich, Mike Muscala and Kris Humphries all do their things and provide quality minutes, than this team could shock the NBA. But again, winning in Cleveland will be imperative and it just doesn’t feel like Atlanta can go into the Rock ‘N Roll Capital of the World and and steal a Game 1 or Game 2 right now. Tiago Splitter (Hip) has been Out for the Season for some time for Atlanta and is there only Injury concern heading into this Best-of-7 series.


Cleveland Cavaliers
The Cleveland Cavaliers (37-42-3 ATS, 20-21-1 ATS Home in Regular Season) and Head Coach Tyronn Lue are, and have been such massive NBA Odds Favorites to win the Eastern Conference (-300 to win Eastern Conference, Ladbrokes), that it could almost be defined as an “Expectation” for almost the entire Regular Season both by Fans, Oddsmakers and Sports Gamblers. But the truth of the matter is that Cleveland will still have to earn it (a trip to the NBA Finals) and will still get way, way, way less credit even if/when they do so. It’s become the Nature of The Beast: The ugly face of Concluded Expectations before a team even plays.

You know the story, like The Ohio State College football team expected to roll the table again last season and repeat as champions? Things usually happen in Sports because teams deserve them and the bottom line is that the Cleveland Cavaliers have been the third best team in the NBA for the L3 seasons—seasons which have seen the Golden State Warriors set new NBA Records and the San Antonio Spurs become the closest thing to a computerized professional basketball, thanks to Head Coach extraordinaire Greg Popovich. So the team Cleveland has and what they have done—albeit in the Eastern Conference—should not be overlooked and this current (and healthy) Starting 5 of C Tristan Thompson, PF Kevin Love, SF LeBron James, SG JR Smith and PG Kyrie Irving has served this team very well with everyone now knowing and maximizing his Role on the Offensive end.

Moving Timofey Mozgov to a backup C role and letting the more athletic and Rebound-hungry Thompson start looks like it was a wise move and Matthew Dellavedova and Iman Shumpert both know exactly what to do when they’re in. But with Cleveland (+350 to win NBA Championship, Paddy Power) sticking to the same theme of letting LeBron James lead the team—both on and off the Hardwood it seems—seems dangerous and short-sighted but hard to get away from when you have a player of his caliber.

The more LeBron gets others like Kevin Love, Smith, Irving, Thompson and Dellavedova into the Flow, the better it is for the Cavaliers. It often seems this Cleveland team is really sort of run by a Point Forward, and with so much success—in terms of at least getting to the NBA Finals—the Cavaliers will probably just keep it that way. And, although maybe not clear right now, this team’s Path to the NBA Finals seems a bit easier this year and they had to be a little bit energized about the Injury news to the Warriors Stephen Curry. We’ll see. Cleveland could get plenty of Rest on a sleigh ride through the East while a Warriors-Spurs collision in the Western Conference could leave the winner gassed.


Season Series Results, L10 Meetings Trends, Streaks, Thoughts and Total Pick
Cleveland scored 109, 110 (OT) and 109 points against Atlanta this Regular Season in 3 SU Wins and 3 covers in two games here in Cleveland and one at Philips Arena in Atlanta. And in each game the Cavaliers had different leading scorers (Love 25, James 29 and Irving 35), so expect all three of those Usual suspects as well as starting SG Smith to be Confident and firing in this Hawks series. As far as Pace, both teams will be comfortable with an up-and-down-the-court, fast-paced series here with so many scorers on each Roster and those the types of games these two traditionally play when they meet (208, 208 (OT) and 203 points).

The Cavaliers won 109-97 at Home in Cleveland, covering as 5-point favorites (199, Over) back on Nov. 21, Cleveland won 110-108 in OT almostly exactly a month ago (April 1) at Philips Arena in Atlanta, barely covering (by a ½) as 2-point Underdogs (Over, 206) and then the Cavaliers rolled in the last week of the Regular Season in Cleveland (April 11), 109-94, easily covering as 6½-point chalks (Under, 204½). So, the Over has W4 of the L5 meetings in this series and it looks like Cleveland has covered ATS in 4 of those 5 of those meetings and 6 of the L7 meetings, including the L4 here in Cleveland.

So the recent and theoretically relevant Trends point toward taking Cleveland at Home and backing the Favorites in Game 1 as Cleveland won’t want to lose that precious Home-court Advantage and should come out really strong in Quarters 1 and 2 to try to light The Q’s fire. And the Hawks have to be a little bit more tired than the Cavs, having to go 6 games with Boston (and now Traveling again). With James, Love, Irving and Smith all playing well together now and in a groove (and Rested), the Cavaliers should win this one in a relatively high-scoring affair on Monday night to get off on the right foot against a very capable opponent in the Hawks. But having LeBron and the Home edge in this Eastern Conference Semifinals series should be huge. Using the Cavaliers in the Moneyline (-340, Bookmaker) with some MLB and/or NHL or maybe the Spurs in their Game 1 against Oklahoma City in a small Parlay on Monday is advised.

This series will continue on Wednesday night with Game 2 (TNT, 7 p.m. EDT/4 p.m. PDT) again in Cleveland before the series heads south to Atlanta for Game 3 on Friday May 6 (ESPN, 7 p.m. EDT/4 p.m. PDT) and Game 4 on Sunday, May 8 (ABC, 3:30 p.m. EDT/12:30 p.m. PDT). If necessary, a Game 5 will back at Quicken Loans Arena on Tuesday, May 10 (TNT), with a potential Game 6 slated in Atlanta on Thursday, May 12 (ESPN) and what would be a really dramatic Game 7 is scheduled to be held in Cleveland on Sunday, May 15.

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Free NBA Pick: Over 200½
Best Line Offered: at BetOnline
Score Prediction: Cavaliers 110 Hawks 95
Record: This Week: 3-2 / Last Week: 1-4 / Previous Week: 2-4

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