Atlanta Hawks vs. Cleveland Cavaliers Preview and Pick – Point Spread

Atlanta Hawks (21-9 21-9 ATS) vs. Cleveland Cavaliers (25-8 18-15 ATS) Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, OH 7 PM EST Wednesday December 29, 2009
by Jason Green at

Point Spread: Hawks +6.5 / Cavs -6.5
Over/Under: 193

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Tonight in a rematch of last night’s game the Cleveland Cavaliers host the Atlanta Hawks. Last night Cleveland beat the Hawks in Atlanta, which kept the Cavs and their 5-game winning streak alive and they continued their dominance of the Hawks winning their 8th straight game against them. The reason they won was with their solid defense, especially in the 4th quarter when the Cavs outscored the Hawks 20-10. The Cavs held the Hawks scoreless for the first 9 minutes of the final period. The Cavs dominated the boards in last night’s game out-rebounding the Hawks 43-30.

The Cavs have won 5 in a row and are 9-1 in their last 10 games and the Hawks are, obviously, coming off a loss, but they are still 7-3 in their last 10 games.

The Hawks have lost 6 straight games in Cleveland and they are averaging 82.9 ppg and shooting 40.4% during the losing streak to Cleveland.

Defense will be the key in tonight’s game again and the Hawks and their legit offense needs to score tonight on a Cleveland defense that is firing on all cylinders and really clamping down on teams. In yesterday’s pick I was correct in stating that the Hawks would not come close to scoring near their season average and that their main scorers of Joe Johnson, Al Horford, and Josh Smith would struggle on offense. These 3 guys need to play better tonight for Atlanta to win.

This season the Cavs are 12-2 at home and the Hawks are 9-6 in away games.

In last night’s game between these 2 teams the Cavs beat the Hawks 95-84. The high scorer for the Hawks in the game was reserve Jamal Crawford going for 26 points on 10/17 shooting. The high scorer for the Cavs was Mo Williams going for 20 points on 7/15 shooting. For the game the Hawks shot 31/70 for a FG% of 44.3% and the Cavs shot 38/77 for a FG% of 49.4%. The Hawks could not take advantage of the fact that LeBron James struggled, big time, only scoring 14 points on 6/20 shooting.

This season the Hawks rank 4th in scoring (104.9 ppg) and the Cavs rank 15th (100.3 ppg). On defense the Cavs rank 4th in points allowed (93.6 ppg) and the Hawks rank a respectable 12th (97.5 ppg). Cleveland is a better team on the boards with a rebounding differential of +3.2 rpg while the Hawks are at +0.6 rpg.

According to the Sagarin NBA ratings the Cavs rank 1st (96.85) and the Hawks rank 4th (95.46).

Even though King James struggled last night Mo Williams came through and helped him out in the scoring department and he will do that again, as the Hawks will key on LeBron. Williams is averaging 23.8 ppg on 52.7% in his last 5 games overall, and 22.6 ppg in his last 5 match ups with Atlanta.

Cleveland will, once again, play stellar defense, especially since they are at home tonight. For the 2nd straight game the Hawks will not reach their season scoring average.

In a few trends for the game Atlanta is 5-0 ATS in their last 5 games following a S.U. loss, are 5-0 ATS in their last 5 games following an ATS loss, and are 19-7-1 ATS in their last 27 games as an underdog of 5.0-10.5.

The Cavs are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 games following an ATS win, S.U. win, and against teams that are above .500.

On the injury front PF Joe Smith is day-to-day for the Hawks and the Cavs are not reporting any serious injuries.

Jason’s Pick: The Hawks could not capitalize on LeBron’s off night last night, as they lost and they will lose again tonight no matter how James does. The Hawks simply do not match up well with the defensive minded Cavs and that will be the difference in this game. Take the Cavs tonight, as they will win this game and cover the spread.

The Under is also a good pick, not only because the Cavs’ D is so good, but also because the trends say so. The total has been Under in 6 of the Cavs last 7 games against Eastern Conference foes and the total has been Under in 11 of Atlanta’s 14 games when they are the underdog.