Hawks vs. Cavaliers Odds
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Friday night, the Cleveland Cavaliers host the Atlanta Hawks in the final game of the Eastern Conference Play-In Tournament to decide seed No. 8.
The Cavaliers fell in an early hole in the first play-in game against the Brooklyn Nets. They were down by 20 points after the first quarter and 14 points in the half. They kept hitting the Nets but were never able to regain the lead. However, they went away with the coverage of the 9.5-point spread, to the delight of the Cavaliers bettors.
The Hawks dominated the Charlotte Hornets with a 132-103 victory at home Wednesday night. Despite a bad shooting night from Trae Young, the Hawks were able to get contributions from across the board with six players scoring in double digits.
At the time of writing, the Hawks are -2.5 favorites away from home. This really represents the market mood of these two teams throughout the season: an overestimation of the underperforming Hawks and an underestimation of the tough Cavaliers.
Home teams have won all four play-in matches so far. Can the Cavaliers reach the five in a row? Let’s dive into the matchup below to see if we can find any betting edges.
Does the Hawks have another off-season run?
The Hawks surprised the league last season with an increase in the late-season and an impressive run to the Eastern Conference Finals, giving the final champion Milwaukee Bucks a chance for the money. They completely exceeded expectations and established themselves as a team to be feared in the future.
Or so we thought.
The Hawks barely creaked in No. 9 spot – they looked to be No. 10, but were able to move into ninth place by finishing the season strong and winning eight of their previous 10 games.
In addition, they had the home court advantage for the first play-in match, which was crucial. However, this game will be on the move and they are doing exponentially worse on the road. They are 16-25 just up the road and 14-27 ATS. It’s a horrible sight.
Scoring has not been the problem either. Atlanta’s offensive rating is number two (115.4) in the league, according to the NBA Advanced Stats. However, their defensive rating is 26. (113.7) and they have let teams go over them.
The Hawks are missing a great man in John Collins, who has been out of the game for 17 games in a row with a myriad of injuries. The Hawks have not declared him out, but head coach Nate McMillan has mentioned that he is unlikely to play if the Hawks advanced.
Lou Williams, a valuable veteran bench contributor, will also be out. In addition, Bogdan Bogdanovic is doubtful tomorrow. He is one of the Hawks’ most reliable scorers behind Young.
Although the Hawks have played well, I think they will be overestimated by their success in their previous game against the defenseless Hornets team.
Health is the key to cavaliers
Jarrett Allen is the X-Factor here for the Cavs. His status for Friday’s match is up in the air as he recovers from a broken finger that has caused him to miss the last 19 matches. Reports say he does everything in his power to play Friday, but he is still listed as questionable and is a true game-time call.
Rajon Rondo delivered some solid minutes down the stretch. With Rondo, his experience and playmaking was a great advantage for the Cavaliers. Together with Garland, he is allowed to play off-ball and create chaos for the opponents.
The Cavs have gone 7-12 in those games, and the on / off numbers that the Cavaliers allow their opponents to score 3.2 points more per game. 100 balls when he is off the field, per. Basketball Reference. If he returns to this game, I’m much more optimistic about the Cavs.
The Cavs have been amazing at home. They went 25-16 (61%) straight up and 23-17-1 (57.1%) against the spread at Quicken Loans Arena. This will prove to be even more important as home ground advantage has really meant something in these play-in matches and the breathtaking crowd will give some extra energy to the home team.
Even without Allen, they still have some strong defenders, led by prominent rookie Evan Mobley, and Darius Garland on the offensive, who have taken a huge leap this season. He led the comeback effort against the Nets, scoring 34 points on 13-for-24 shots. Their defense should give a much bigger task against the Hawks than the Swiss cheese Hornets defense.
Both teams play at a slower pace and I like that the Cavs thrive more at halftime with the better defenders.
Money and action seem to favor the Hawks in this game, but I want to support the Cavaliers here. The home-away games greatly favor the Cavaliers and they have a chance to get Allen back in the ranks. The Hawks handle a myriad of injuries on their own.
Without Collins to relate to, you can expect Mobley (and potentially Allen) to help with Young and their other goal scorers.
I think this narrative is in line with the theme throughout the season. The Cleveland Cavaliers have been criminally underestimated and the Hawks are constantly being put on a pedestal. It’s no different here.
Cavaliers have home, injury and rest advantage. The value is on the Cavs here – bet them on the spread and do not be afraid to add some on the money line.
Pick: Cavaliers +2.5
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