The fourth-seeded Hawks will now look to return the favor when they meet the top-seeded Cavaliers in Game 1 of their second-round series Monday as consensus 7.5-point underdogs at sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark.
Atlanta has lost seven straight meetings with Cleveland straight up to go along with a 1-6 mark against the spread, according to the Odds Shark NBA database. The closest game between the teams this season was a 110-108 overtime victory for the Cavs as 2.5-point road underdogs on April 1.
LeBron James scored a game-high 29 points to help Cleveland pull off the win that night after blowing a 21-point lead in the first half.
The Hawks would like to believe they peaked too early last season, which is why they did not make it to the NBA Finals. The more believable reason is obviously James, who averaged 27.3 points on 57.9 percent shooting from the field, 11.0 rebounds and 7.7 assists in the three regular-season meetings.
He averaged 30.3 points, 11.0 rebounds and 9.3 assists against Atlanta in the Eastern Conference Finals last year but shot just 43.8 percent from the field. Regardless, those numbers prove his domination here.
James did not have Kevin Love alongside him in last year’s playoff matchup with the Hawks, and that should also help the Cavs in Game 1. Love averaged 18.8 points and 12.0 rebounds in the first round against the Detroit Pistons, although he should probably cut back on his three-point attempts and try to become more of a factor inside.
Atlanta played well in its first-round series win over the Boston Celtics and hopes to pick up where it left off. The four wins by the Hawks were decided by an average of 14.3 points, and the under went 5-1 in the series overall on the betting lines at the sportsbooks.
The Hawks' best chance to steal Game 1 is to try to slow down the tempo and not get into a three-point shooting contest with Cleveland. The Cavs made 20 three-pointers in Game 3 against the Pistons, which was the most lopsided of the series and also took place at Quicken Loans Arena.