The Atlanta Hawks are riding high after dismantling the Charlotte Hornets in the No. 9 vs. No. 10 matchup in the Eastern Conference play-in tournament.
Now, Atlanta will go on the road in a win-or-go-home game against the Cleveland Cavaliers for the No. 8 seed. The Cavs fought hard against the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday, but they never were able to pull within true striking distance in the fourth quarter.
Both of these teams have a key starter down to injury, although the Cavs may get center Jarrett Allen (fractured finger) back on Friday. As for the Hawks’ John Collins, things are looking a little less likely.
The Hawks won three of the four regular season matchups between these two teams, scoring 121 or more points in the final three meetings (all wins). So, who should we pick in this game?
First, let’s get into the odds for Friday’s showdown via WynnBET:
Hawks vs. Cavaliers Odds, Spread and Total
- Hawks -2.5 (-108)
- Cavaliers +2.5 (-108)
- Hawks: -140
- Cavaliers: +115
- 225 (Over -108/Under -108)
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Hawks vs. Cavaliers Prediction and Pick
The status of Allen will be key in this game, as the All-Star center clearly makes the Cavs a far better team.
Cleveland was just 9-17 without Allen in the regular season, and the Cavs will need his size to compete with Clint Capela and Onyeka Okongwu down low on Friday.
My biggest concern is Cleveland’s offense, as outside of Darius Garland the team didn’t get a strong offensive performance from anyone against the Nets. Garland is not going to be able to do it all himself, similar to Tuesday, as the Hawks have the No. 2 offensive rating in the NBA.
Atlanta ran another strong offense in the Charlotte Hornets off the court on Wednesday night, and this team has the experience of making the Eastern Conference Finals last year to fall back on.
As good as the Cavs have been all year defensively, they haven’t had an answer for Atlanta since their first matchup this season, so I love getting the Hawks as slight road favorites.
Over their last 10 games, the Hawks are third in offensive rating and 15th in defensive rating. Cleveland? It ranks 19th and 21st in those respective categories. I’ll ride with the more experienced team playing some of its best basketball of the season entering this game.
Pick: Hawks -2.5 (-108)
Find Peter Dewey’s full betting record in the NBA this season here.