NBA Picks: Lock Cavaliers ATS & Moneyline Odds vs. Under-Powered Hawks

Kevin Stott

Friday, May 6, 2016 11:02 AM UTC

Friday, May. 6, 2016 11:02 AM UTC

Cleveland Cavaliers face Atlanta Hawks one more time in this NBA betting semifinals series. Will Hawks demonstrate that they've got what they need to beat Cavaliers?


Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Atlanta Hawks
This Eastern Conference Semifinals series heads to the Peach State this weekend with LeBron James and the top-seeded and defending conference champion Cavaliers taking a 2-0 lead to the Philips Center in Atlanta against the Hawks in a what will be a crucial Game 3 in this Best-of-7 series on Friday night. Offshore sportsbooks currently have the host Cavaliers as 2½-point favorites (Heritage)—with some moving to 3 already with some perceived early Sharp money—with the Total (Points) at 200 (Under -108, Heritage).

The Money Line (Winner) NBA odds see Cleveland priced at -140 (at BetOnline) with the Hawks lined at +125 on the takeback as the small Home underdogs. The First Half odds seeing the Cavaliers as tiny 1-point chalks (-115, with the First Half Total set at 100 ( Cleveland won Game 1 on Monday, 104-93, covering as 7½-point chalks (Under, 199½) and rolled to an easy 123-98 win in Game 2 on Wednesday, easily covering the 7-point spread (Over, 196) and establishing a new NBA Record for made 3-pointers (25) out of nowhere. Perhaps NBA Commissioner Silver will levy a fine on the Cavaliers for daring to display such outlandish ABA-like behavior as a member of the Eastern Conference. This will not do.


Cleveland Cavaliers
The Cleveland Cavaliers (37-42-3 ATS, 20-21-1 ATS Home in Regular Season) and Head Coach Tyronn Lue have been absolutely great so far in these NBA Playoffs, W6 straight, going 4-2 ATS and scoring over 100 points in all 6 games while allowing an opponent to cross that threshold only once (Pistons in Game 1, 106-101). And it seems that Wednesday night’s Game 2 thrashing of the Hawks may be an indication of really how Offensive this Cleveland (+320 to win NBA Championship, BetVictor) team can be when clicking on all cylinders and daring to pop Jumpers from behind the 3-point line, knowing that may be their only offensive-defense should they and the Golden State Warriors (-110 to win NBA Championship, William Hill) somehow end up meeting in the NBA Finals next month.

In the big win in Game 2—a game which saw Cleveland (25-45 on 3’s, 47.1%) make an NBA-record 18 3’s by Halftime, rolling out to a insurmountable 36-point lead—the Cavaliers (-450 to win Eastern Conference, bet365) were led by starters SF LeBron James (27 points, 4-6 on 3’s), SG JR Smith (23 points, 7-13 on 3’s), PG Kyrie Irving (19 points, 6 assists, 4-5 on 3’s), dependable PF Kevin Love (11 points, 13 rebounds, 3-4 on 3’s) and C Tristan Thompson (5 points, 7 rebounds). And the Cleveland Bench joined the party, adding 38 points with Channing Frye (12 points), Richard Jefferson (8 points), Iman Shumpert (7 points) and Mo Williams (5 points) all chipping in with backup PG Matthew Dellavedova (3 points, 1-7 from Field) seemingly the only reliable player to have a bad game for the Hosts, although his +/- of +19 in just 13:20 of Playing Time reveals much of the story of this game: The Cavaliers could do no wrong. Cleveland is currently very Healthy and Injury-Free at this point in the Playoffs and have earned and had the maximum amount of Rest, despite the Postseason still being in this somewhat relatively early stage.


Atlanta Hawks
The Atlanta Hawks (42-39-1 ATS Regular Season) and Head Coach Mike Budenholzer were humiliated in Game 3 and when you’re down 74-38 at Halftime it’s probably hard not to want to get in the old Chevy Blazer and head Home for some Nachos and a Hug. And while the Cavaliers hot shooting got all of the Press after the blowout on Wednesday, it’s impossible to ignore how poorly Atlanta shot (30-71 from Field, 42.3%) and how unproductive almost all of its “Big Guns” were. PF Paul Millsap (16 points, 4-8 from Field) and C Al Horford (10 points) had decent games in the Box Score, but the Hawks were out of it from the start with fellow Starters SG Kyle Korver (7 points, 1-2 from 3’s, Hello, is there anybody in there? Just nod if you can hear me, KK), PG Jeff Teague (14 points, 3-10 from Field), SF Kent Bazemore (5 points, 1-7 from Field) probably making the Hawks (33/1 to win Eastern Conference, William Hill) Front Office (again) think that maybe a major Overhaul will be the best approach for next season. And, as he often does, Thabo Sefolosha (10 points, 4-4 from Field) had a nice game off the Atlanta Bench as did Kardashian-escapee Kris Humphries (12 points, 9 rebounds). Tiago Splitter (Hip) has been Out for the Season for some time for Atlanta (250/1 to win NBA Championship, William Hill) and is their only Injury concern heading in here Friday night.

Last 10 Meetings in Series, Trends, Streaks, Emotional Angle, Thoughts and Picks
This handicap will require, and actually start from the point after Game 2 where the Atlanta Hawks Paul Millsap reportedly said—in so many words—that the Cavaliers were unprofessional in attempting all those 3-pointers in the 2nd Half when already up big in Cleveland on Wednesday night. This was a huge mistake on Millsap’s part and probably (at least) worth the weight of the Point Spread (2½ points) here in the eventual Fire it may have fueled in the bellies of the already hot-shooting, Injury-free and unbeaten in the Postseason Cavaliers.

The Site could weigh heavy here in this particular game, but Atlanta doesn’t possess the kind of scary Homecourt Advantage that other teams in the NBA noisily have and anyone watching closely on Wednesday—despite the Thunderstorm of Cavaliers’ 3’s—could see that LeBron was in that NFL Running Back, charge-straight-to-the-damn-Rim mode with no Hawks defenders capable of stopping him with some Hawks players like Reserve G Dennis Schroder simply grabbing an arm and holding onto to James like an Christmas ornament with the Akron native’s muscular right arm being a Branch on the holiday Tree. This is bad news for Atlanta.

The Media talks about your jumper, so why not muscle your way straight to the Hoop when you want then? Or maybe go Crazy from 3-Pointville and shove that Jumper Talk up the pundits rear ends? With a 2-0 lead and memories of all that Rest after Round 1 and their Sweep of the Detroit Pistons, Cleveland will look to take the Atlanta Crowd out of this and at least be dead-even with the Hawks by Halftime to send a message, knowing it has this team’s number and is good at surging to 2nd Half leads.

And that’s looking easy with this talented and jelling cast who all want the ball in Crunch Time, save for maybe Thompson, who knows and embraces his role as an athletic, Dennis Rodman-type Rebounding Machine and Hardwood Valet to try to make the jobs of fellow frontcourt-mates James’ and Love’s that much easier. And he does and moving Timofey Mozgov to a backup Center role was a fantastic move by Lue and the Cavaliers.

With the blowout in Game 2, Cleveland has now W9 SU and W5 ATS Wins against the Hawks and have the Momentum and Mental Edge with all they’ve done to this point and those four main scoring Starters (James, Love, Irving, Smith) all providing fluid Offense. It’s no fluke this team tops the 100-point mark almost every time it takes the court these days, and no matter how much Defense Atlanta tries to play here, it will take the perfect game and maximum scoring from Horford, Millsap, Bazemore, Teague, Korver and Schroder just to get the Win and get back in this series.

The Hawks’ players faces looked very long on Wednesday night, and getting this Freight Train-like Cavaliers (44-44 O/U) team at these low prices—both ATS and on the Moneyline—here in Game 3 may end up looking like a bargain when we wake up Sunday morning. Trend-wise, the Under is 8-2 in the L10 Hawks games overall, with both Overs coming in this series (Games 1 and 4).

The Hawks (40-50 O/U) are just 3-7 ATS in their L10 overall and with the Cavaliers on a roll, toss out the numbers and Underdog-backing and simply think to yourself who will win this game in this spot and why. The points (probably) won’t matter at all here and any Zig-Zag Theories will be put to the test by the better Roster with a new chip on its shoulder after that aforementioned meaningless Millsap comment. If the Hawks wanted to stop Cleveland from popping those 3’s in the 2nd Half, maybe they should have had bodies on the Cleveland players and expended the Energy on Defense. Instead, we got bitter chirping which will only lead to Cleveland confidently attempting more 3’s and that Confidence is a huge part of shooting in Basketball.

Now whether or not the Cavaliers will still see the Rim as well at Philips Arena remains to be seen, but recent relevant History shows the Hawks are no match for this Cleveland Bunch (8-3 ATS L11 Friday games) and always having to try to play the perfect game against them leads to Frustration, more of which we could witness here in Atlanta on Friday night. Game 4 will be played on Sunday, May 8 (ABC, 3:30 p.m. EDT/12:30 p.m. PDT), and, if necessary, a Game 5 will back at Quicken Loans Arena on Tuesday, May 10 (TNT), with a potential Game 6 scheduled in Atlanta on Thursday, May 12 (ESPN) and what would be a dramatic (and unlikely) Game 7 set to be held in Cleveland on Sunday, May 15. Embrace Logic. My final score prediction for this NBA pick is Cavaliers 111 Hawks 92.

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Free MLB Pick: Cavaliers -2.5 & Cavaliers Moneyline 
Best Line Offered: at Heritage & Bookmaker respectively.

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