The Cleveland Cavaliers will be trying to increase their two game lead over the Toronto Raptors in the Eastern Conference standings when they play the Atlanta Hawks at the Phillips Arena on Friday night. The game is scheduled to begin at 8 PM. ET.
The Cavaliers were the favorites to win the Eastern Conference this season, and while they currently sit on top of the standings, they haven’t been as dominant as most people expected before the season began despite being healthy for most of the year.
The Atlanta Hawks finished with the best record in the East last year but they haven’t been able to replicate last season’s success and are currently eight games behind the Cavaliers in the standings. The Hawks can’t afford to lose this game because they only have a one game lead over the Boston Celtics, Miami Heat, and Charlotte Hornets, which means that they could fall down to 6th place in the standings with a loss to the Cavaliers.
The Cavaliers have lost two of their last three games and are 6-4 in their last 10 games. With seven games left on the schedule after this game, they have to find a way to close out the season on a high note if they don’t want to drop to second place when the playoffs start.
LeBron James has carried the team on his back for most of the season because Kyrie Irving missed the first two months of the season while he was recovering from an injury and Kevin Love is still struggling to find his role on the team.
Despite their struggles this season, the Cavaliers are still one of the best defensive teams in the NBA. The Cavaliers are holding opponents to an average of 98 points per game, which is third in the league. Offensively, they are putting up 103.9 points per game, which is 9th in the league.
After a slow start to the season, the Atlanta Hawks seem to be peaking at the right time. The Hawks have one four of their last five games and eight of their last 10, which makes them a team others will try to avoid when the playoffs start. They could bolster their chances of advancing past the first round with home court advantage and they will be trying to win as many games to ensure that they do get home court advantage.
The Hawks are also a very good defensive team, and they are holding their opponents to 99 points per game. Offensively, the Hawks score 102.9 points per game, which is 14th best in the league. However, the Hawks are one of the worst rebounding teams in the NBA and average 41.8 rebounds per game, which is 25th in the NBA.
Cavaliers vs Hawks Betting Lines
The two teams seem to be heading in opposite directions, which is why I think the Cavaliers will struggle against the Hawks. Since this will be Cleveland’s second game in as many nights, I’m picking the Hawks to win a close game.
Play: Hawks -2.5