NBA Playoff Game Prediction & Preview
NBA Playoff Game Betting Lines
By Dan Favale
Cleveland Cavaliers (-7.5) vs. Atlanta Hawks (+7.5)
This is the exact same line the Cleveland Cavaliers and Atlanta Hawks saw in Game 1. Leading into that matchup, it looked a little generous on Cleveland’s behalf. Then Game 1 started to the unfold, and it suddenly looked a little generous on Atlanta’s behalf. The Hawks fell behind by as many as 18 points, and while they came storming back, the Cavaliers were still able to cover, much to the disappointment of everyone who expected a tightly contested tilt.
Rolling with the Cavaliers in this one is perfectly justifiable. They are playing at home and are far more rested than the Hawks, who were forced to survive a six game battle with the Boston Celtics before this round. Better for the Cavaliers still, LeBron James is firing on all cylinders while also getting help from his supporting cast. At least one of Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love has been on point almost every night, and Cleveland is getting consistent, if spectacular, production from role players like Matthew Dellavedova, Richard Jefferson—yes, him—and J.R. Smith.
Factor in Atlanta’s inability to get Al Horford, Kyle Korver or Jeff Teague going, and the Hawks look dead in the water. A blowout almost seems inevitable.
It’s nevertheless important to not read too much into just one contest. Game 1s are a feeling out process for all involved, even heavy favorites like the Cavaliers. The Hawks have the defense to keep things close, if not steal a game in Cleveland, and their offensive struggles won’t last forever.
To wit: Will Kyle Korver ever again shoot just once in nearly 37 minutes of action? Probably not. And will Al Horford, Kyle Korver, Paul Millsap and Jeff Teague all play poorly on the offensive end in the same game once more? Most definitely not.
We saw the worst of the Hawks in Game 1, and they still, for a while, almost covered. They even grabbed a lead in the fourth quarter. And with that in mind, they are the more intriguing play right now. We can talk about burying them if they get destroyed in Game 2. For now, though, the smartest play is to count on one of these first two second round tilts ending with very little elbow room. And with Game 1 already a wash, that leaves Game 2. Pick the Hawks to cover and feel mostly confident about it.
The Pick: Hawks (+7.5)
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