NBA Eastern Conference Finals Game Two: Cleveland Cavaliers at Atlanta Hawks

2015 NBA Playoffs
Eastern Conference Finals
Game #2
#2 Cleveland Cavaliers at #1 Atlanta Hawks
Cavaliers Lead Best of Seven Series 1-0
Philips Arena – Atlanta, Georgia
Friday, May 22, 2015, 8:35 pm Eastern, TV: TNT
Opening Line: Atlanta pick
Current Line: Atlanta -1 1/2
Opening Total: 197
Current Total: 197
Opening Money Line: Hawks -110 / Cavaliers -100
Current Money Line: Hawks -130 / Cavaliers +110

The Hawks look to even the Eastern Conference Finals in game two Friday night against the Cavaliers.
The Hawks look to even the Eastern Conference Finals in game two Friday night against the Cavaliers.

The Cleveland Cavaliers won a game one on the road in a playoff series for the first time in franchise history Wednesday at the Atlanta Hawks in the Eastern Conference Finals. The Cavaliers had been 0-14 in such games before the 97-89 victory. Game two is Friday night in Atlanta.

Atlanta went 60-22 in the regular season and won the Southeast Division title by 14 games over the Washington Wizards. It was the best record in franchise history. Atlanta beat the #8 seed Brooklyn Nets in a tougher than expected six games in the first round. The Hawks rallied from a 2-1 deficit against the #5 seed Wizards in the second round to advance to the Conference Finals for the first time since 1970.

Cleveland went 53-29 and won the Central Division by 3 games over the Chicago Bulls. The Cavaliers swept the #7 seed Boston Celtics in the first round, and beat the #3 seed Bulls in six games in the conference semifinals, after trailing 2-1 in the series. The Cavaliers return to the conference finals for the first time since the 2009 season.

In game one, Atlanta took an early 9 point lead, and would lead by 6 at the end of the first. Cleveland would tie it up by halftime. The third was back and fourth until about five minutes left in the quarter when Cleveland got red hot. The Cavaliers went on a 22-4 run over the end of the third and beginning of the fourth, keyed by five three pointers from J.R. Smith. Cleveland led by as many as 18 after an 11-0 run to start the fourth. Atlanta forward DeMarre Carroll left the game with about five minutes to go in the fourth with a knee injury. He had to be helped back to the locker room as he couldn’t put any weight on it. Carroll has not only been the leading scorer for the Hawks in the playoffs, but he is the best defensive stopper and had been tasked with guarding LeBron James. Carroll is questionable for game two after an MRI revealed no structural damage.

Even after Carroll left the game, Atlanta rallied to within four points with just under a minute to go. However, Lebron dunked on the next possession  and ended any hopes of an Atlanta comeback. The Cavs made their free throws and sealed the 8 point win.

Both teams shot around 44% from the field but Atlanta made only 4/23 three pointers. Cleveland made 10/26 three pointers, including 8 from Smith. Cleveland had a huge advantage in rebounds 49-37.

James finished with 31 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists. He is probable for game two with an ankle injury.  Smith had 28 points, 8 rebounds and 3 assists. Tristan Thompson had 14 points, 10 rebounds and 2 blocks. Kyrie Irving, who is battling knee tendonitis, had 10 points, 6 assists and 3 rebounds. He is probable for game two. Timofey Mozgov had 10 points and 11 rebounds.

Atlanta guard Jeff Teague had 27 points, 4 assists, 3 rebounds and 2 steals. Al Horford had 16 points, 7 rebounds and 2 assists. Paul Millsap had 13 points, 7 rebounds and 3 assists. Kent Bazemore had 10 points and 4 rebounds.

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Atlanta is coached by Mike Budenholzer, who was named NBA coach of the year. The Hawks are 55-39-2 this season and the total is 47-50. Atlanta was a 2.5 point favorite in game one and the total was 199.5. Cleveland  is coached by David Blatt. Cleveland is 45-48 ATS and the total is 37-55-1.

Atlanta is outscoring teams 100-96 in the playoffs. Atlanta is shooting 43.4% from the field and 34.3% from 3 point range. Atlanta is shooting  78.7% from the free throw line. Opponents are shooting 42.5% from the field and 36.4% from 3 point range. Atlanta averages 45.2 rebounds and opponents average 45.5 per game. Atlanta averages 25.4 assists, 13.8 turnovers, 9.2 steals and 5.6 blocks per game. Opponents average 21.3 assists, 14.4 turnovers, 7.5 steals and 3.9 blocks per game.

In the playoffs, forward DeMarre Carroll averages 17.1 points, 6.8 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.1 steals per game. Paul Millsap averages 15.7 points, 9 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 1.8 steals and 1.3 blocks per game.  Jeff Teague averages 15.3 points, 3.2 rebounds, 7.4 assists, and 1.6 steals per game. Al Horford averages 15.6 points, 9.9 rebounds, 4.1 assists, and 1.8 blocks per game. Horford suffered a dislocated pinky in game one of the Brooklyn and has been playing with his hand taped but is probable. Kyle Korver averages 11.3 points, 5.2 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.6 steals per game. He struggled against the Wizards.  Dennis Schroder averages 10.1 points and 4.3 assists. Thabo Sefolosha is out for the season with a broken leg.

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Cleveland is outscoring teams 100-93 in the playoffs. The Cavaliers are shooting 43.2% from the field and 34.2% from 3 point range. Cleveland makes 79.8% of their free throws. Opponents are shooting 40.8% from the field and 30.5% from 3 point range. Cleveland averages 44.9 rebounds per game and opponents averages 40.8 per game. The Cavaliers average 18.1 assists, 12.1 turnovers, 6.3 steals and 7.6 blocks per game. Opponents average 18.9 assists, 11.7 turnovers, 6.1 steals and 5.2 blocks per game.

The Cavaliers are banged up and certainly aren’t at full strength. LeBron James is averaging 26.5 points, 10.2 rebounds, 7.9 assists, 1.9 steals and 1.6 blocks per game in the playoffs. Kyrie Irving averages 19.8 points, 3.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists, and 1.2 steals per game.  Kevin Love is out for the playoffs after suffering a dislocated shoulder in the first round against the Celtics. J.R. Smith averages 11.3 points, 3.6 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game. Iman Shumpert averages 10.4 points, 4.9 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 1.2 steals and 1 block per game. Timofey Mozgov, Tristan Thompson, Matthew Dellavedova and James Jones will also get minutes in the rotation. Anderson Varejao is out for the season with a torn Achilles.

Cleveland is 7-3 ATS against Southeast teams, and against teams with winning home records, 2-5 in conference finals games, 2-6 after a cover, 3-9 on one day rest, and 0-6 in Friday games. The over is 6-2 in this series recently.

Atlanta is 4-0 ATS after failing to cover, 10-3 against teams with winning road records, 13-4 against Central teams, 5-2 on one day rest, 27-11 in Friday games, 15-7 after a straight up loss, 25-12-1 against teams with winning records, and 2-6 at home. The home team is 6-2 ATS in this series recently. The Hawks are 4-1 ATS against the Cavaliers in Atlanta recently.

This is a virtual must win game for the Hawks, because otherwise they will be down 2-0 and have to go on the road for the next two games. If Carroll doesn’t play, Atlanta could struggle to stop LeBron. If Smith is red hot again, then Cleveland could win this game easily.

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