Cavaliers-Hawks Matchup Likely An East Finals Preview
The obvious game of the night in the NBA on Friday is when Cleveland visits Atlanta, with the Cavs opening as 1-point favorites on NBA odds at Sportsbook.ag with a total of 200 points. The Hawks are going to be the top seed in the East, without question, and are the only team to already have clinched a playoff spot. However, they are +280 second favorites to win the East. Cleveland, which most believe will finish second in the East standings, is the -180 favorite.
Cavs Remain Title Favorites
Cleveland improved to an NBA-best 20-4 (.833) since Jan. 15 after defeating the Toronto Raptors 120-112 Wednesday night at Air Canada Centre. The Cavs shot 40-78 (.513) from the field, including 15-36 (.417) from the three-point line. Cleveland also had 27 assists to just nine turnovers and won the regular season series over Toronto, 3-1. In his 600th game as a Cavalier, , LeBron James recorded his 17th double-double of the season after tallying a game-high 29 points (15 in the fourth quarter) on 9-16 (.563) shooting, including 3-6 (.500) from beyond the arc, six rebounds and a season-high tying 14 assists in 37 minutes. James scored or assisted on 21 of the Cavs’ final 25 points and is now 17 assists away from passing Mark Price (4,206) as the franchise’s all-time leader in assists.
During their 20-4 stretch since Jan. 15, the Cavs rank 1st in points per game differential (+11.5), 1st in three-pointers made (270), 1st in field goal percentage (.470), 2nd in points per game (107.8) and 5th in three-point percentage (.366). Defensively since that time, the Cavaliers are 5th in opponent field goal percentage (.423), 7th in opp. three-point percentage (.327) and 9th in opp. points per game (96.3). When scoring 100 points or more this season, the Cavs are 32-5 overall.
No Respect For Hawks?
At 48-12 on the season, Atlanta owns the best record in the NBA. It is the first time in franchise history the Hawks recorded 48 wins in any 60 game span during a single season. Atlanta is second in the NBA in fewest points allowed (96.4) and is one-of-two teams (Portland) to rank in the Top 10 in both scoring (eighth, 102.6) and fewest points allowed per game.
The Hawks are on a five-game winning streak (2/22-3/3) and have held all four opponents below 100 points during the run, allowing 89.6 ppg (448).
Atlanta leads the season series 2-1 against the Cavs. Cleveland won the first contest at home on 11/15 (127-94), while Atlanta won the second game at Quicken Loans Arena on 12/17 (127-98) and the most recent matchup at Philips Arena on 12/30 (109-101). Paul Millsap is averaging 18.7 points, 8.0 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.3 blocks against the Cavaliers this season. Kyrie Irving is averaging 21.3 points, 6.7 assists, 3.0 rebounds and 1.7 steals against the Hawks this year. Atlanta has won four consecutive games at home against the Cavs, with Cleveland’s last victory at Philips Arena coming on 11/30/12 (113-111).
Key betting trends: Cavaliers are 7-0 ATS in their last 7 after allowing 100 points or more in their previous game. Cavaliers are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 vs. NBA Southeast. Cavaliers are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 vs. Eastern Conference. Hawks are 11-1 ATS in their last 12 vs. NBA Central. Hawks are 14-3 ATS in their last 17 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600. Hawks are 9-2 ATS in their last 11 home games vs. a team with a winning road record.
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