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

Cleveland Cavaliers (24-8 17-15 ATS) vs. Atlanta Hawks (21-8 21-8 ATS) Philips Arena, Atlanta, GA 7 PM EST Tuesday December 29, 2009
by Jason Green at

Point Spread: Cavs +2 / Hawks -2
Over/Under: 193.5

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Tonight the Atlanta Hawks host the red-hot Cleveland Cavaliers, who will be looking for their 5th straight win. The Cavs are in first place in the Central Division by 10.5 games and are 9-1 in their last 10 games. The Hawks are also playing great, but I would not call them red-hot, coming off a win and going 8-2 in their last 10 games.

Cleveland is one of the best defensive teams in the league and they are stepping it up even more on D in their recent play, especially in their last 2 wins including smoking the defending champion Lakers in L.A. on Christmas. The Cavs have outscored their last 4 opponents by an average of 17.7 ppg while limiting them to 40.4% shooting. Cleveland has won 7 straight against the Hawks and that includes 3 in a row in Atlanta.

Atlanta is one of the best home teams in the NBA (12-2) and they look to snap their losing streak to LeBron and company tonight. The Hawks have won their last 4 at home by an average of 21 ppg. However, the Cavs have had their number recently and this season they are a legit 9-6 in away games. In an interesting trend the Cavs are 7-3 ATS in their last 10 road games vs. a team with a home winning % of greater than .600.

In their last game the Cavs beat the Rockets 108-83 on Sunday. The high scorer in that game was, you know who, LeBron James going for 29 points on 12/20 shooting. For the game the Cavs shot 44/93 for a FG% of 47.3%. On D the Cavs really played great, as the Rockets only shot 25/76 for a FG% of only 32.9%.

The Hawks beat the Indiana Pacers 110-98 on Saturday night in their last game. The high scorer for the Hawks in that game was Al Horford going for 29 points on 11/14 shooting and he also grabbed 19 boards. For the game the Hawks shot well going 40/79 from the floor for a FG% of 50.6%. On defense the Hawks allowed the Pacers to shoot 40/90 for a FG% of 44.4%.

This season the Hawks are having no problems in the scoring department ranking 4th in the league averaging 105.6 ppg) and the Cavs rank 14th (100.5 ppg). On D the Cavs rank 4th in points allowed (93.9 pp) and the Hawks rank 13th (97.6 ppg). Both teams are solid on the boards, as the Cavs have a rebounding differential of +2.9 rpg and the Hawks are at +2.0 rpg.

According to the Jeff Sagarin NBA ratings the Cavs are the top ranked team (96.41) and the Hawks rank 4th (95.96).

The Cavs and their D has stymied the Hawks this season and in last years’ playoffs and they will play good D again tonight, as the Hawks will not score 100 points tonight.

The Cavs are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 games when they are the underdogs and 0-4 ATS in their last 4 games. However, the Cavs are 5-1 in their last 6 games on the road.

Hawks are 6-1 ATS in their last 7 games as a home favorite of 0.5-4.5 and are 6-1 ATS in their last 7 after scoring 100 points or more in their previous game, which they did against Indiana on Saturday.

Even though Shaq is averaging career lows in both scoring (10.3 ppg) and rebounding (7.1 rpg) he will have a big game tonight matched up with Al Horford, who is giving up 3 inches and around 90 pounds to the Diesel.

Josh Smith (15.2 ppg), Joe Johnson (21.4 ppg), and Al Horford (14.1 ppg) are the big guns for the Hawks, but they will not reach their season averages tonight playing against a Cavs’ defense that has been more than stellar as of late.

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

Jason’s Pick: Even though the Hawks are 22-7-1 ATS in their last 30 games as a home favorite and the Cavs are only 1-5 ATS in their last 6 Tuesday games I am going to buck the trends and go with the team that is rolling. Cleveland will play another fantastic defensive game and continue their dominance over the Hawks, as LeBron will lead Cleveland to the win.