NBA Playoffs Picks: Cavaliers vs. Hawks Eastern Conference Semifinals

Kevin Stott

Saturday, May 7, 2016 3:18 PM GMT

Saturday, May. 7, 2016 3:18 PM GMT

Let’s examine the L10 meetings in this Cavaliers-dominated series, weigh any Trends, Streaks, Injuries and Emotional angles and come up with a couple of sensible NBA picks for the game.

The Cleveland Cavaliers rallied in the 4th Quarter in Game 3 on Friday night for a double-digit Win over the Hawks in Atlanta to take a commanding 3-0 series lead and make Sunday afternoon’s Game 4 here a must-win spot for the Hawks in this Eastern Conference Semifinals series. So do Paul Millsap, Jeff Teague, Al Horford and Kyle Korver have a prayer against the defending Eastern champs?

 

Odds Overview
The Atlanta Hawks play host to LeBron James and the top-seeded and defending conference champion Cleveland Cavaliers at the Philips Center in Atlanta on Sunday afternoon in what’s now a do-or-die Game 4 of this Best-of-7 Eastern Conference Semifinals series. Offshore sportsbooks currently have the host Cavaliers as 5½-point favorites (-108, Heritage)—although the current range is from 5 (Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook) here in this critical game with the Total (Points) currently at 202 (Under -108, Heritage).

The Money Line (Winner) NBA odds see Cleveland priced at -230 (BetOnline) with the Hawks lined at +195 on the takeback as the small Home underdogs while the First Half odds have the visiting Cavaliers as 2½-point Favorites (-115, Bookmaker) with the First Half Total presently set at 100½ (Bookmaker). Cleveland won Game 1 on Monday, 104-93, covering as 7½-point chalks (Under, 199½), rolled to an easy 123-98 win in Game 2 on Wednesday, easily covering the 7-point spread (Over, 196)—establishing a new NBA Record for made 3-pointers (25) along the way—and then the Cavs rallied for a 121-108 victory Friday night at Philips Arena in Atlanta in Game 3, again covering ATS as 2- to 2½-points chalks heading in (196, Over).

 

Cleveland Cavaliers
The Cleveland Cavaliers and Head Coach Tyronn Lue have had the ideal NBA Playoffs experience so far, W7 straight, going 5-2 ATS and scoring over 100 points in all 7 games while allowing opponents to cross that triple-digit threshold only twice (Pistons in Game 1, 106-101, Hawks in Game 3, 121-108). After two straight poor shooting performances from Kevin Love (4-17 in Game 1, 3-12 in Game 2), the Cavaliers got a little bit better one (7-17 from Field, 5-7 from 3’s) from him on Friday in Game 3 as he had 21 points, 15 rebounds and 3 assists in less than 30 minutes of Playing Time. UCLA-product Love continues to be valuable piece of the puzzle for Cleveland like Draymond Green is to the defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors (10/11 to win NBA Championship, Paddy Power) in that he does everything he can when he’s on the court. Cleveland (11/4 to win NBA Championship, Paddy Power) actually trailed by 6 heading into the 4th Quarter, but a 36-17 final 12 minutes buried to hosts and for all practical purposes (and porpoises), put this series away. Along with Love, the Cavaliers (37-42-3 ATS, 20-21-1 ATS Home in Regular Season) were led by Reserve Channing Frye (27 points, 10-13 FGs, 7 rebounds), LeBron James (24 points, 11 rebounds, 6 assists) and Kyrie Irving (24 points, 3 assists, 3 steals) in scoring and Tristan Thompson, among other, on the Boards (13 rebounds). And after setting a NBA Record for 3-pointers and then hearing the Hawks Millsap chirp about it, Cleveland went 21-for-39 from behind the 3-point line (53.8%), so the cavaliers are now quite possibly addicted to the 3. And the combined 12 3-pointers hit by Unlikely Suspects Love and Frye is certainly in one of Nostradamus’s Quatrains or something. The Cavaliers (1/5 to win Eastern Conference, bet365) are very Healthy and Injury-Free at this point in the Playoffs and have earned and had that maximum amount of Rest, and, in the context of not having both star starters Love and Irving in and healthy at this point in the Postseason compared to last year, Cleveland has to be feeling pretty good about themselves.


 

Atlanta Hawks
Head Coach Mike Budenholzer saw his Atlanta Hawks play a great game on Friday night for three Quarters, but the Cleveland Cavaliers are the wrong team to fade on Defensively in the 4th Quarter and, quite obviously, that 19-point difference in the 4th quarter was the whole story of the game as Experience (Cleveland) overtook Fear (Atlanta) and set the visitors up to Sweep this series on Sunday. PF Paul Millsap (17 points, 8 rebounds) had another admirable game for Atlanta (42-39-1 ATS Regular Season), but C Al Horford (24 points, 1 rebound) thought he was a 3-point shooter all of a sudden (2-4) and played way too high in the backcourt too often for a man that’s a 7-footer and the Hawks starting Center—especially with a hungry Tristan Thompson gobbling up rebounds. When your 7-foot Starting Center has just 1 rebound in the biggest game of the year for your team, you’re usually going to be crying to the wife at home. Hawks starting Guards Kyle Korver (18 points, 5-9 from 3’s) and Jeff Teague (19 points) both snapped out of their shooting slumps and also had nice games for Atlanta (500/1 to win NBA Championship, Paddy Power) while Thabo Sefolosha (8 points, 2-2 on 3’s), Kris Humphries (9 points, 4 rebounds) and Dennis Schroeder (8 points, 2-3 on 3’s) all did pretty well on the Offensive end when called upon and the Hawks (100/1 to win Eastern Conference, Betfred) actually shot very well (41- for-84, 48.8%) from the Field on Friday night. But it was the massive 55-28 edge in Rebounding—which translates to Possessions which translates to more Opportunities to score—the Cavaliers had that was the real story of this game. On the Injury front, Tiago Splitter (Hip) has been Out for the Season for some time for Atlanta.

 

Last 10 Meetings in Series, Trends, Streaks and the “They’re Obvious” Picks
Cleveland has now W9 SU vs. Atlanta, W9 of the L10 ATS and has W6 ATS against the Hawks and it’s quite obvious who is the better team and has all of the Momentum here in this series. The Cavaliers top the 100-point mark almost every time they take the court these days and seem to enjoy this new, shoot-when-you-want gunners mentality and have almost perfected that rally-in-the-4th-Quarter closers thing. The Hawks got almost the perfect game and maximum scoring from Horford, Millsap, Teague, Korver and Schroder and still got beat by 13 points in a crucial game at Home in which the Philips Arena crowd actually provided a great deal of help along the way. Even though the Under is 8-3 in the L11 Hawks games overall, expect Atlanta to be gunning for their lives and little Defense to be played from the opening Tip on Sunday, so the Over seems logical with Cleveland suddenly a 3-point shooting team and the oddsmakers only willing to adjust the Total upward a couple of points (202, Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook). With the Cavaliers (44-44 O/U) seeking to get maximum Rest and another Sweep, a Straight Up (SU) Win here (Cavaliers -205, Sportbet.com) could probably be expected much more so than in Game 3—as the 100-cent increase in the Moneyline odds show—and in both the NBA and NHL Playoffs, teams with 3-0 series leads more often than not end up sweeping the series, as King James and the Cavaliers did against the Detroit Pistons in Round 1, even though the Pistons played extremely well in all four games. Cleveland wants maximum Rest for the Eastern Conference Finals and should make quick work of the Hawks (40-50 O/U) who now have the Pressure to have to win here on their shoulders.

And even though it will be in the friendly confines of Philips Arena and that the Hawks (3-8 ATS L11) actually played pretty well and showed much heart on Friday in Game 3, the Cavaliers are just too strong and have had at least four of their five Starters in overdrive throughout this series. And never underestimate how important both Physically and Psychologically Days Off (Rest) are to NBA players and the (maximum so far) Rest Cleveland could earn by sweeping Atlanta here this weekend will weigh heavy in their minds heading in here and it’s really, really hard to envision them losing in this spot. Standing in front of Freight Trains never works and this series shows that the Zig-Zag betting theory is best used (if used) when two teams are closer in talent and when their Home Sites hold relatively equal weight. These two franchises and their current Cultures are pretty far apart. One expects to get to the NBA Finals yearly while the other is just pleased to make the Playoffs.

If our NBA picks were to miss, 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.

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Free NBA Pick:  Cavaliers -5 -105 & Over 202
Best Line Offered: at Heritage
Final Score: Cavaliers 118 Hawks 100

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