Cleveland at Atlanta (ABC, 3:35 p.m. ET)
Cavaliers lead series 3-0
After setting an NBA record with 25 baskets from 3-point land in Game 2 last Wednesday, the Cavaliers followed up that effort with 21 bombs from downtown on Friday as they defeated the Hawks 121-108 in Game 3 as 2 ½-point road favorites.
The game was closer than the final score indicated and much tighter than the 25-point blowout in Game 2 but a loss is a loss and the Hawks are all too familiar with this result versus the Cavaliers. Including Friday’s setback, Atlanta has now dropped 10 straight to Cleveland and it’s a dreadful 1-9 against the spread in those losses.
The series isn’t over yet but with Cleveland opening as a 5 ½-point road favorite for Game 4 on Sunday, it appears the oddsmakers have lost hope in Atlanta.
Including Friday’s setback, the Hawks are now 1-3 both SU and ATS as home underdogs this season and all three losses were 10-plus points.
He explained, “The Cavaliers are 1-0 in close-out games in this year’s postseason, plus they went 3-0 both SU and ATS in close-out games of the 2015 playoffs. Three of those victories occurred on the road — Detroit in the first round this year plus victories against Boston and Chicago last year. Since 2011, LeBron James-led teams have compiled a 14-4 SU and 11-7 ATS mark when trying to clinch a series, but two of those losses came with his team (Heat) leading 3-0 on the road in the first round in 2011 and 2012.”
It should also be noted that in his playoff career, LeBron has been in 10 series where his team has built a 3-0 series lead. Those teams finished off the sweep eight times while capturing victories in five games in the other two series.
Atlanta has dropped three consecutive games during the regular season four times. After the third loss, the Hawks rebounded with four emphatic wins and three came by double digits while the offense posted 112, 103, 127 and 103 points.
The team total on the Hawks for Game 4 is 99 ½ while the Cavaliers have a number of 104. After watching Cleveland put up 123 and 121 points, it’s hard not to go against them, especially when a guy like Channing Frye hits 7-of-9 from 3-point land for the Cavs and finishes with a career-high 27 points.
The Hawks got a great performance from an outsider in Game 1 when backup point guard Dennis Schroder erupted for 27 points in 29 minutes. Since then, he’s only played a combined 26 minutes while posting 13 points. I know Jeff Teague has played better in the last two games but Schroder has a different gear and will likely be the starter in Atlanta next season.
After two straight ‘over’ tickets in this series, oddsmakers opened Game 4’s total at 202 and it’s been bet up to 203. Despite Friday’s shootout, Atlanta has watched the ‘under’ go 12-3 in 15 home playoff games under Mike Budenholzer. And since LeBron rejoined the Cavs, the club has watched the ’under’ go 8-3-2 in road playoff games. Even though the trends could have you leaning low, the recent offensive fireworks can’t be ignored.
The Cavaliers have played at 3:30 p.m. ET six times this season and have posted a 6-0 mark in these spots, which includes a 106-101 win over Detroit in Game 1 of their first round series. Atlanta has gone 2-2 in afternoon games.
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If necessary, Game 5 will take place on Tuesday from Quicken Loans Arena.