Cavs to sustain dominance of Hawks?
With just two games remaining in the regular season, the Central Division champion Cavaliers certainly aren’t producing their best brand of basketball. Coach Tyronn Lue hopes that changes in time for tonight’s tussle with one of the East’s finest.
Atlanta visits Quicken Loans Arena at 7 p.m. ET in a rematch of last year’s conference finals. Oddsmakers at online sports book BetDSI still give the benefit of the doubt to the host team, listing Cleveland as a 5-point favorite.
The Cavs (56-24) followed a blowout loss to Indiana last Wednesday with a 105-102 defeat at sub-.500 Chicago over the weekend. Yet they’ll be able to secure the No. 1 seed with a seventh straight victory against the Hawks.
Mike Budenholzer’s group possesses plenty of motivation to snap such a prolonged skid, though. In search of its second consecutive Southeast Division title, Atlanta (48-32) is also engaged in a down-to-the-wire battle with Boston for home-court advantage in the opening round.
These two clubs last met on April 1, when Cleveland squandered a 21-point advantage in the first half before prevailing in overtime. LeBron James registered 29 points, 16 rebounds and nine assists in that contest, while Jeff Teague went for 28 on the ATL side.
The Hawks’ main point guard has actually averaged 23.8 in four tilts this month. Paul Millsap stepped to the forefront in Saturday’s clutch triumph over the Celtics, however, with five 3-pointers and 13 field goals altogether. He’ll need another monster effort to counter a very hot Kevin Love in the post.
Nonetheless, the Cavaliers seem ready to stop toying with everybody tonight. Expect Kyrie Irving to raise his performance in hopes of offsetting the team’s recent personnel losses in the backcourt, riding shotgun with James as the King’s land officially gears up for next week and beyond.
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