Cavs vs Hawks Betting Game 4: Cleveland on Verge of Finals

cleveland-vs-atlanta-bettingThere were a couple of big storylines in Game 3 of the playoff series between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Atlanta Hawks. For starters, Al Horford was ejected in the first half after dropping an elbow on Cavs guard Matthew Dellavedova. This was huge because Horford was leading the Hawks with 14 points at the time. Nevertheless, Atlanta came roaring back, only to finally be upended 114-111 (OT) thanks to a monster triple double by LeBron James (33 points, 18 boards, 13 assists). Will James have another insane effort tonight? We’ll discuss that soon, but let’s first take a look at the Game 4 betting line:

Game Time: Tuesday (May 25th) at 8:30pm ET on TNT Betting Line:
Cleveland -8 (-110)     Over. 193.5 (-110)
Atlanta (-110)             Under 193.5 (-110)

Last game was interesting because Atlanta played without Kyle Korver (out for playoffs) and Horford (missed over two quarters), yet still had their chances to win. Of course, it’s not like Cleveland doesn’t have key players out either, with Kevin Love (out for playoffs) and Kyrie Irving (questionable for Game 4) suffering from ailments. So can LeBron power this team to a fourth and final victory in the series? Or will Atlanta muster some of that magic that won them 60 games in the regular season?

1. LeBron might be shooting Poorly, but His Presence is All that Matters

James had his worst playoff shooting start ever on Sunday night, missing his first 10 shots before finally hitting one. He would go 14-for-27 the rest of the way, but his final stat line read 14-of-37 (37.8%). LeBron also made just 1-of-6 three-pointers, with the one he hit putting Cleveland ahead in overtime. But while the poor shooting performances continue for James, his presence is more valuable than anything (see 13 assists). Yes, the game was sloppy, but with Atlanta focusing so much on him, the other Cavs will continue hitting open shots.

2. Cleveland’s Small Ball Approach is working

jr-smith-clevelandWhile the mid-season acquisition of Timofey Mozgov was definitely a great move, he hasn’t really been utilized much this series (22 minutes last game). Instead, it has been Tristan Thompson playing center while J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert and even James Jones continue seeing major minutes. Part of this is because the Hawks are undersized down low, but part of it is also Cleveland wanting to space the floor and get open looks for Smith, Shumpert and Dellavedova. And it’s working when you consider that they hit a combined 11 three-pointers.

3. Jeff Teague will continue dominating

The one player that the Cavs definitely can’t guard is Teague, especially with Irving hurt. Dellavedova plays great defense, but he’s not an elite talent, and he’s definitely not used to playing entire games. The end result is that Teague can get his shot pretty much any time he wants. Last game he made 9-of-23 shots for 30 points, so expect plenty more of this in Game 4.

4. The Hawks Bench has been a Disappointment

jeff-teagueDuring the regular season, Atlanta’s bench was a big reason behind them grabbing the Eastern Conference’s number one seed. In this series, it’s been a big thing holding them back. Shelvin Mack had a strong game (5-for-10, 13 points), but the rest of the bench shot 3-for-13. Worse yet is that Mike Scott let a crucial loose ball go out of bounds right in front of him, thinking it was off Cleveland. Somebody on this bench has to step up for Atlanta to win.

5. Cleveland is playing with More Urgency

Despite the Hawks being down 3-0, the Cavs have played with more fire and intensity in this series. It’s pretty clear that LeBron wants to end this thing early and get the team some rest before their likely NBA Finals appearance. And that should be all the motivation they need to close out the series in Cleveland tonight.

Final Score Prediction: Cleveland 98 – Atlanta 91

Does beating Warriors make Cleveland Cavaliers the NBA’s Best Team?

Draymond Green, LeBron JamesLast night featured one of the most-anticipated games of the 2014-15 NBA season, with the Cleveland Cavaliers hosting the Golden State Warriors. All eyes were on this contest because Golden State featured the league’s best record at 44-10, while Cleveland is hitting their stride after winning 17 out of their last 19 games.

This matchup was potentially a 2015 NBA Finals preview, and if the results are any indication – a 110-99 victory by Cleveland – the East should do very well in the Finals. Okay, so that’s putting the cart ahead of the horse, but the Cavs have even more momentum going forward after this huge victory.

The same can be said of LeBron James, who scored a season-high 42 points and grabbed 11 rebounds against Golden State. He came out strong right from the gate after scoring 24 points in the first half, and he continued attacking in the second half too. Kyrie Irving pitched in 24 points, along with a 10-for-10 performance from the free throw line.

Golden State’s star players, on the other hand, didn’t fare quite so well. Stephen Curry ended with 18 points on 5-of-17 shooting while Klay Thompson added 13 points on 5-of-13 shooting. David Lee came off the bench to lead the Warriors with 19 points.

cleveland-cavs-beat-warriors-1One thing became immediately clear after this game: for the first time since the season’s start, Cleveland is truly back in the discussion for serious title contenders. Furthermore, LeBron has made himself a strong MVP candidate with his best performance of the year against the NBA’s top team. King James easily outplayed one of the strongest MVP contenders, Curry, while continuing the excellence that started when he came back from an 8-game layoff in January. Of course, if LeBron falls short of the MVP award, he can still sleep at night knowing that he’s already earned 4 of them.

His bigger dream at this point is definitely bringing Cleveland its first NBA title. And this seems like a very realistic goal when considering that the Cavs continue climbing in the Eastern Conference standings. They’re currently half a game ahead of Chicago in the Central Division, while maintaining the number-three seed. They also sit just a game behind Toronto for the East’s second seed. Cleveland likely won’t catch Atlanta for the top seed, but if they keep playing like this, will it really matter? Moreover, is there another NBA team that can beat them?

If the Warriors hope to answer yes to this question, they’ll need a stronger defensive effort in the future. This shouldn’t be a problem because, coming into last night’s contest, they ranked No. 1 in defensive efficiency. However, they couldn’t contain a red-hot start from the Cavs, who put up 32 points in the first quarter and 61 by halftime.

James lighting up Andre Iguodala and Harrison Barnes was a big reason for this offensive outburst. But four other Cavs ended up in double digits too, meaning there’s no shortage of options on the Cleveland roster. Of course, there are over three months of basketball left to be played, so it’s a little early to anoint the Cavs as the automatic champion.