It's on the Eastern Conference Finals and I will have a free pick in Game 1 between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Atlanta Hawks, which will take place at Philips Arena in Atlanta, Georgia. The game has a start time of 8:30 pm (Eastern) and will be televised on TNT. Current Vegas betting odds have the Hawks listed as 1 point favorites, while the total is set at 197.
Analysis: The Cleveland Cavaliers had an easy time of it in the round 1 sweep of the Celtics, but they were in a 6 game war with the Bulls in round two. They did win the series 4-2, but also showed that they can struggle without Kevin Love and now they have a hobbled Kyrie Irving. The Cavs are limping into this series. Cleveland has gone 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games after allowing less than 75 points in their previous game, but 0-5 ATS in their last 5 games following a SU win of more than 10 points. The Cavaliers have been a solid offensive team on the road this year, scoring 102.1 ppg on 44.5% shooting overall and 34.5% shooting from long range. Defensively on the road the Cavs have allowed 100.0 ppg on 46.4% shooting overall and 32.7% shooting from long range.
The Atlanta Hawks came into the playoffs as the top seed in the East, but they did struggle mightily with the Nets in the opening round, before having some issues with the Wizards in the 2nd round. The Hawks didn't play well in that series and might not even be here had John Wall not suffered a broken hand a missed a couple of games. They did win the series, but they obviously aren't playing their best ball in the post season. Atlanta has gone 13-3 ATS in their last 16 vs. the Central and 25-11-1 ATS in their last 37 games vs. a team with a winning S.U. record. The Hawks have scored 102.8 ppg on 46.8% shooting overall and 37.7% shooting from long range at home this year. Defensively they allowed 94.7 ppg on 43.8% shooting overall and 33.5% shooting from long range at home for the year.
Pick: I will be going with the Under in this one. The Cavs have really locked it down on defense of late as they allowed just 89.6 ppg in their last 5 games in their series with the Bulls. They are really starting to play defense like a championship team. On the other side we have an Atlanta squad that has allowed just 42.5% shooting and just 95.7 ppg in the playoffs this far, while at home they have allowed just 94.7 ppg on 43.8% shooting for the year. Game 1 should really be a feeling out process for both teams and I expect this one to be played in the 180s.
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