Hawks Open As Slight Favorites For Game 1 Of Eastern Conference Finals Vs. Cavaliers
Much like in the Western Conference, the Eastern Conference Finals are chalk this season with top-seeded Atlanta and No. 2 Cleveland facing off in Game 1 on Wednesday night. The Hawks are 1-point favorites on Bovada odds with a total of 197. However, the Cavs are slight series favorites. The favored result is Cleveland in six games at +165. The Cavs are -230 and the Hawks +190 overall.
Irving Good To Go
Of course the Cavs remain without Kevin Love but they handled the Bulls in six games without him. All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving barely played in the Game 6 clincher with foot and leg injuries but will play in Game 1 after six days off. Cavaliers coach David Blatt said Irving was able to make it through ‘another light, but good day,’ during Tuesday’s practice. Blatt said he was “encouraged” by Irving’s improvement after he held him out in Cleveland’s 94-73 Game 6 win once Irving stepped awkwardly on Tristan Thompson’s foot in the second quarter and had to be helped to the locker room.
“It’s just good to see that he’s making some progress,” Blatt said. “He’s not there 100 percent yet, but he’s making progress and that’s a very good sign. I’m hopeful.”
Irving will need to be pretty healthy to deal with Atlanta’s point guard duo of All-Star Jeff Teague and young Dennis Schroder. Teague is averaging 15.3 points, 7.4 assists and 1.6 steals per game in the playoffs. Schroder, in his second year, finished ninth in voting for the league’s Most Improved Player award this season and is averaging 10.1 points and 4.3 assists in the postseason. Cleveland ranks first among the remaining teams in the playoffs in both points per game allowed (92.6) and opponent’s field goal percentage (40.8).
Atlanta is in the East Finals for the first time since moving to the city. The Hawks won the season series 3-1 with Cleveland.
Cavaliers 127, Hawks 94: This one was ugly right from the start as the Cavaliers made their first 11 3-point attempts on the way to a rout Nov. 15 in Cleveland. The Hawks trailed 41-25 after one quarter and 71-43 at the half. In the first quarter, the Cavaliers shot 77.8 percent (14 of 18) from the field, including all nine 3-pointers. LeBron James led the Cavaliers with a game-high 32 points.
Hawks 127, Cavaliers 98: The Hawks got a measure of revenge following their lopsided loss a month earlier Dec. 17 in Cleveland. After trailing by 12 points in the second quarter, the Hawks did a complete turnaround and would lead by as many as 31 points. Shelvin Mack, filling in for an injured Jeff Teague, had a career-high 24 points and was 6 of 6 from 3-point range
Hawks 109, Cavaliers 101: The Cavaliers were without LeBron James as he took a two-week hiatus in the victory Dec. 30 in Atlanta. Jeff Teague had a double-double of 23 points and 11 assists and Paul Millsap added 26 points, nine rebounds and three blocks for the Hawks, who played without Al Horford.
Hawks 106, Cavaliers 97: On the day the Hawks unveiled the statue of Dominique Wilkins outside Philips Arena, the team took care of business in impressive fashion inside on March 6. Both teams had a full complement of players, including the Cavaliers with several mid-season acquisitions. Al Horford led six Hawks in double-figure scoring with 19 points and nine rebounds.
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