Atlanta (0-0) at Cleveland (0-0)
When: Monday, May 2nd 2016
Where: Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, OH
Time: 7:05 ET | TV: TNT
The Atlanta Hawks and Cleveland Cavaliers will open their Eastern Conference Semifinals series Monday night in Cleveland. The Cavaliers easily swept the Hawks in last year’s Eastern Conference Finals and will look to continue that dominance in this series. Cleveland won all three meetings during the regular season and seem to have the Hawks number. Forward LeBron James was the star in last year’s conference finals by averaging 30.3 points, 11 rebounds and 9.3 assists. James continued his dominance of the Hawks this season with averages of 27.3 points, 11 rebounds and 7.8 assists in three games. Point guard Kyrie Irving was superb during the first round sweep of the Pistons and topped 30 points twice while averaging 27.5 for the series. Kevin Love averaged 18.8 points and 12 rebounds in the first round and recorded a double-double in each game. The Cavaliers might have to fight off a little rust as they haven’t played since April 24th.
The Atlanta Hawks still remember getting beat by 30 points in the series finale last season and will look to be more competitive this time around. The Hawks had a tough six-game series with Boston in the first round, but won the final two games. Small forward Kent Bazemore averaged 14 points and seven rebounds in the series against Boston as he will draw the defensive assignment of slowing down James. Al Horford averaged just 8.5 points in the final four games of the Boston series after averaging 20.5 points in the first two contests. Paul Millsap scored a playoff career-best 45 points in one game in the first round and averaged just 10.6 points in the other five games. Atlanta lost by double-digits in the two games at Cleveland this season, but lost in overtime at home in their only meeting in Atlanta.
I don’t see anyway the Hawks keep this series close. Even if they manage to win a home game, the Cavaliers should win this in at least five games. Look for a blowout to start the series.
Pick: Cavaliers -7.5