NBA Eastern Conference Finals Game One Preview: Cavs vs. Hawks

After winning two rounds to get to this stage, the Atlanta Hawks and Cleveland Cavaliers are set to tangle in the NBA’s Eastern Conference Finals. In this battle between the top two seeds in the Eastern Conference, both sides have distinct advantages over one another, advantages that top basketball betting experts will know how to leverage as these sides look to win a trip to the NBA Finals.

Atlanta’s road to the Eastern Conference Finals consisted of two series wins over the eighth seeded Brooklyn

Nets and fifth seeded Washington Wizards, both of which the east’s top seed won in six games. While the goal for every team is to simply defeat the teams put in front of them, though, the Hawks were a bit disappointing in their failure to play up to the high standard they set for themselves in the regular season in struggling their way through the first two rounds of the playoffs.

Cleveland, meanwhile, has done a fine job in getting to this point. The Cavaliers swept the seventh seeded Boston Celtics in round one, and defeated the third seeded Chicago Bulls in six games to reach this stage of the postseason in a matchup that many basketball tipsters expected to see in the Eastern Conference Finals when the season began.

As for this matchup, Atlanta has a clear advantage on the interior, while Cleveland’s guards have the talent to make up for that by controlling the perimeter.

For the Hawks, the combination of Al Horford and Paul Millsap have teamed up to dispatch Brooklyn and Washington sides who boast top level centers in Brook Lopez and Marcin Gortat, both of whom are vastly superior to anything Cleveland will throw at Atlanta in the paint. This advantage should cause Cleveland defenders to crash down on the Hawks’ bigs, freeing up space for shooters provided that Horford and Millsap can deliver proficient passes from the post.

On the flip side, the guard combination of LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, JR Smith, Iman Shumpert, and newly anointed hero Matthew Dellavedova will be a nightmare for the Hawks to defend with the likes of Jeff Teague, Kyle Korver, DeMarre Carroll and company.

And speaking of LeBron James, this series will be a huge test for his legacy, as he looks to reach his fifth consecutive NBA Finals with no trip tougher than this one should Cleveland advance to that stage. James’ squad is without star forward Kevin Love, who was injured in the final game of the team’s first round series with Boston, and with an injured Kyrie Irving, who will play but will not be at full strength. A series win here would solidify James as one of the all time greats, and as someone who doesn’t need his full supporting cast to succeed.

While both teams have their strengths in this matchup, it’s worth noting that the Atlanta Hawks won three of the four meetings between these two teams in the regular season. Atlanta also has home court advantage, and are looking to deny LeBron James entry into his fifth consecutive NBA Finals. NBA betting experts know that the combination of prior success and home court advantage are undeniably beneficial to the Hawks, but Cleveland having the best player in the sport could even things out in the end.


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