NBA Picks: Rebounding & Defensive Efficiency to be the Difference in Cavs-Hawks Game 1

Charles Stark

Wednesday, May 20, 2015 11:45 AM GMT

Wednesday, May. 20, 2015 11:45 AM GMT

This will be a great matchup between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Atlanta Hawks in the first game of the Eastern Conference Finals.  I am backing the Hawks and the small line to take care of business at home.

The Line
NBA odds makers have come out with basically a pickem with Atlanta Hawks at -1. I know the public will probably want to back the Cavaliers in this spot but winning a game in Atlanta is never easy and the Hawks style of basketball might present some problems that the Bulls did not.

Click here to read our Cavaliers vs. Hawks series price picks

It is Still the Defense
With the Hawks going with pace and space and the Cavaliers running more isolation plays each teams plays to a specific strength.  Defensively things could get interesting with the Cavaliers recent upswing on that end of the floor.  The issue I having though with the Cavaliers is they have not played elite defense against a good offensive team.  Sure their stats look good recently but that was against the overmatched Celtics and the offensively inept Chicago Bulls, both teams which ranked in the bottom half of the league in offensive field goal percentage.  The Hawks have continued to play stellar defense against two teams higher ranked offensively than the Celtics and Bulls in Brooklyn and Washington.  On the year the Cavs ranked 17th in opponent field goal shooting, the Hawks 6th, the Cavs ranked 22nd in opponent turnovers, the Hawks 6th, and the Cavs ranked 11th in scoring defense, the Hawks 3rd.  Cleveland has done a good job defending beyond the arc and limiting second chances, but without Kevin Love I expect them to get outrebounded today.

In the last three games the Hawks and Cavs rank 1st and 2nd respectively in defensive efficiency, but again, completely different matchup comparing the Wizards to the Bulls. This should be a good game but the Hawks were 3-1 against the Cavs this year for a reason, winning the last three they played. I look for that trend to continue tonight with the Hawks winning by close to double digits, so let's back them with our NBA picks.

NBA Pick: Take the Hawks

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Here's our Over/Under NBA Pick for Cavs vs. Hawks Game 1

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