Game 2 - Hawks at Cavaliers
May 3, 2016
By Brian Edwards
Editor's note: Brian Edwards would've swept the board with a 3-0 record last night if Kyle Lowry's halfcourt shot at the buzzer to force overtime hadn't prompted 'under' backers to suffer an unfathomable bad beat. Nevertheless, Brian still went 2-1 Tuesday to improve to 10-4 with his last 14 postseason selections. Even better, he's cashed his guaranteed plays at a 6-1 clip in the past week. He has both the side and total for Cleveland-Atlanta in tonight's pick pack, or you can just opt for his pay-if-it-wins-only pick!
Even with Kevin Love out with a shoulder injury and Kyrie Irving missing Games 2 and 3 of last year’s Eastern Conference finals, Cleveland made easy work of Atlanta in a four-game sweep. For the first 2.5 quarters of Monday’s East semifinals lid-lifter, everything looked the same between the Cavaliers and the Hawks.
When Dennis Schroder committed a turnover that turned into a Cleveland fast break and a LeBron James’ dunk, Tyronn Lue’s squad took a 72-54 lead with 3:56 remaining in the third quarter and Game 1 appeared to be a done deal. Ah, but folks, that’s why they play these games.
On a night at Quicken Loans Arena when franchise stalwart Al Horford played one of his worst games in recent memory and Kyle Korver was smothered and covered to the extent that he only was able to get one shot off despite playing 37 minutes, Schroder sparked a 26-7 run and Atlanta took its first lead of the game on an alley-oop pass from Schroder to Horford for an emphatic dunk in traffic with 8:00 remaining.
Kyrie Irving answered with a 3-pointer, but Schroder came right back and penetrated to the rim for an easy layup to knot the score at 82-82. Again, however, Irving responded with a bucket in the lane, but a Paul Millsap basket pulled Atlanta even once more. Irving put the Cavs back in front with a 15-footer, only for Schroder to answer with a layup of his own.
With the game tied, the Hawks had three straight empty possessions resulting in a pair of 3-point misses and a turnover by Kent Bazemore. Nevertheless, after a Tristan Thompson free throw gave Cleveland a one-point advantage, Horford put the Hawks back ahead by one with a short jump hook at the 4:28 mark.
From there, however, the Cavs went on a 10-0 run over the next three minutes. The spread cover was still in doubt when Millsap made a pair of free throws to cut the deficit to 97-90 with 1:28 remaining. But Cleveland scored seven straight to capture a 104-93 win to hook up its betting backers as a 7.5-point home favorite.
The 197 combined points dipped ‘under’ the 200-point total.
Cleveland (62-25 straight up, 40-44-3 against the spread) led 30-19 at the end of the first quarter to easily cover first-quarter wagers as a three-point favorite. Lue’s squad enjoyed a 51-41 advantage at intermission to cover first-half bets (-4.5).
Trailing by 10, Atlanta was made a 1.5-point underdog for second-half bets (+11.5 adjusted). Therefore, when Lamar Patterson hit an otherwise meaningless trey with 18 seconds remaining, he gave gamblers taking the Hawks in the second half a winner.
James produced 25 points, nine assists, seven rebounds and five steals, while Irving finished with 21 points and eight assists. Love had a double-double with 17 points and 11 rebounds, but he was just 4-of-17 from the field. Also, he appeared to injure his shoulder and turn his ankle in the fourth quarter. In fact, as of Tuesday afternoon, Love was listed as ‘questionable’ for Game 2.
J.R. Smith had 12 points, five rebounds and three assists without a turnover. He drained a huge 3-pointer when the Hawks were up by one midway through the final stanza. Smith was also terrific with his defense on Korver.
Schroder had a career-playoff-high 27 points to go with six assists. However, he committed five turnovers, but the Hawks wouldn’t have been within spitting distance without his scoring efforts. Like Schroder, Bazemore played poorly at crunch time, but he played outstanding for the most part, tallying 16 points, 12 rebounds, four assists and a pair of steals. Mike Scott continued to provide solid minutes off the bench, making all three of his shots while contributing seven points, four boards and two assists without a turnover in only 16 minutes of playing time.
Millsap had 17 points, 13 rebounds, four blocked shots, three assists and two steals, but he was only 6-of-19 from the field. Horford had 10 points, six boards, three blocks and two steals, but he went 4-of-13 from the floor. Teague played only 22 minutes, finishing with eight points on 2-of-9 shooting, but he did dish out four assists without committing a turnover.
Atlanta (52-37 SU, 45-43-1 ATS) can’t count on the type of performance it received from Schroder in Game 1 throughout this best-of-seven set, but it has to feel great about having a chance to win on the road with minimal production from Horford, Teague and Korver, who were All-Stars last season.
For Game 2, the Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas opened Cleveland as a 7.5-point favorite with a total of 199 late Monday night. By lunch on Tuesday, though, the number was down to seven while the tally remained at 199 points. The Hawks were +280 on the money line (risk $100 to win $180), while the Cavs were favored by four for first-half wagers.
Cleveland owns a 36-8 SU record and a 22-22 ATS mark at home this year. Meanwhile, Atlanta is 22-23 SU and 21-23-1 ATS on the road.
The Cavs have won eight in a row over the Hawks, going 7-1 ATS in the process. They have won all four meetings this season both SU and ATS.
The ‘under’ has cashed in four in a row for the Hawks and 10 of their last 12. They have seen the ‘under’ go 50-39 overall, 25-20 in their road assignments.
The ‘under’ is 44-43 overall for the Cavs, but the ‘over’ is 23-21 in their home outings.
5Dimes has the updated series price as Cleveland -1100, leaving Atlanta at +700 on the comeback (risk $100 to win $700).
Tip-off for Wednesday’s Game 2 is slated for 8:05 p.m. Eastern on TNT.
**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**
-- Loyal readers know I’m a long-suffering Hawks fan, so you can imagine how I was pacing around my living room during the fourth quarter of Game 1. My reactions to each play had my dog scared to death (she bolted upstairs to my bedroom after Horford’s dunk to put us in the lead). I only mention this to note that I’m not second-guessing here; I first-guessed, though I can’t reference my twitter feed because I had no time or patience to get on my computer or phone to voice this thought. Though it would have been an against-the-grain move that would’ve drawn criticism galore had it not worked, but I knew Schroder was gassed and (as we used to call it on the playground) “shot out” (didn’t have any more made shots left in him) when he asked out of the game midway through the fourth quarter with the game tied. Budenholzer brought him back in for Teague 62 seconds later at the 5:22 mark, but Schroder missed both of his shots and committed a pair of costly turnovers the rest of the way.
-- Horford and Millsap combined to make only 2-of-16 shots in the first half of Game 1. Love was 1-of-10 in the first 24 minutes.
-- From 5Dimes again, the odds to win the East (as of Tuesday afternoon): Cavs -360, Raptors +600, Heat +1200 and Hawks +1800.
-- Doc Rivers stated Monday that the Clippers will not entertain trade offers for Chris Paul, Blake Griffin or DeAndre Jordan this offseason. Take that for what it’s worth. I’m not saying they will, but things can certainly change on that front.
-- Things I’ve been diggin’ about these playoffs:
1 - Kobe’s Bryant’s absence.
2 - Charles Barkley!
3 - Every second of Inside the NBA, especially the late-night version.
4 - Klay Thompson’s nastiness at both ends.
5 - That insane pass by Tony Parker to LaMarcus Aldridge for the key 3-pointer at crunch time of Game 2.
6 - Atlanta finally beating Boston in the playoffs with that Game 6 pimpslap.
7 - Austin Rivers’ toughness, effort and performance in Game 6 at Portland. After taking an elbow that required 11 stitches and nearly closed his left eye shut with swelling, he produced 21 points, six rebounds and eight assists without a turnover.
8 - Great effort by the Spurs’ fan holding Steven Adams in the corner at the end of Game 2.
9 - Paul George’s overall play and that backdoor cover to hook me up in Game 7.
10A - The fact that I’ll be at Game 3 on Friday night at Philips Arena. It will be the first time I’ve seen LeBron play in-person.
10B - Manu Ginobili's postgame presser on Monday night. He was absolutely right about not blaming the no-call for losing the game. The Spurs got the steal and had a great chance to score and win the game regardless.
-- Things that are chafing me to no end about the playoffs to date:
1 - Chris Webber!!!!!! (to be clear, this assessment is 24/7/365 and has nothing to do with his rant about the no-call at the end of OKC-San Antonio Game 2)
2 - Marv Albert’s stellar (as usual) work being drowned out by Weber’s utter incompetence and propensity for being an insufferable pain in the ass with nearly everything that comes out of his mouth.
3 - James Harden’s effort (or lack thereof) on defense and his deplorable body language when his team is getting spanked.
4 - Injuries to key players like Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and Steph Curry, in addition to Chris Bosh, Marc Gasol and Mike Conley, who went down in the regular season.
5 - How one of my favorite players ever (Al Horford) is costing himself lots of cash with the way he’s struggled with his shot.
6 - That foul by Serge Ibaka on Aldridge shooting a 3-ball when OKC was up four with 13 seconds left in Game 2 (what on earth was he doing?!).
7 - Kyle Lowry’s immense struggles. Let’s see how he plays against the Heat when he’s not being defended by George Hill.
8 - Not saying the Pacers would’ve won, but that call has to be made underneath on the obvious push when Indiana was poised to get an offensive rebound down by three with 12-13 seconds remaining.
9 - The thought of being forced to hear C-Webb’s voice/analysis of EVERY game for the rest of the OKC-SA series. Really, TNT? What a nightmare.
10 - Budenholzer giving minutes to Mike Muscala ahead of Kris Humphries.
Follow Brian Edwards' daily sports gambling analysis on twitter at @vegasbedwards.
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