The top-ranked in the Eastern Conference will take on the prohibitive season-long favorite this week as the No. 1 seed Atlanta Hawks play host to LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Despite starting the series on the road, it’s the King’s Cavs that lead the pair with 13/5 odds of winning the NBA championship.
After showing signs of mortality against both the Brooklyn Nets and Washington Wizards, the Hawks are a far cry from the unstoppable force that they were partway through the season. Since then, their opponents have started to take form.
Even without the injured Kevin Love, the Cavaliers have dispatched both the Chicago Bulls and Boston Celtics thanks largely in part to their franchise icon and hometown boy. The Bulls, of course, were a legitimate conference threat that could have just as easily been handpicked for a spot in the Finals, making Cleveland’s success last week all the more impressive.
With 9/1 odds on the NBA futures, the Hawks are a long-shot in the sportsbook. That doesn’t mean that they can’t still deal damage on a game-to-game basis though. Not only did Atlanta lead the East in wins, they did so with a 50-30-2 record against the spread.
Pick: Cleveland is heavily favored in this series and should win, but I think tonight will belong to the Hawks.