There are only two places left in the NBA playoff field and they will be awarded to the winners of Friday’s play-in tournament games.
The battle for the 8 seeds in the East is reduced to the Falcons i Gentlemen. Atlanta won Charlotte Wednesday to stay alive and now travels to Cleveland, which he lost to the Nets on Tuesday but has another chance to get a spot in the postseason. The winner will play the Heat No. 1 with this series notice on Sunday afternoon.
At the Western Conference, the Pelicans i Clippers will meet in Los Angeles. New Orleans managed for San Antonio to set up a meeting with LA, which advanced against Minnesota. The reward for winning the eighth inning is a first-round showdown with the best team in the NBA: the Suns. This series begins Sunday night.
Regular season record: 117-113-2
Game record: 2-4
Check out the latest odds and lines in SI Sportsbook
Time: 19:30 ET | ESPN
Propagation: Falcons -2.5 (-110) | Knights +2.5 (-110)
Moneyline: Falcons (-138) | Knights (+115)
Total: Less than 223.5 (-110) | More than 223.5 (-110)
That the Hawks are the favorites on the road tells you everything you need to know about this game.
Atlanta embarrassed Charlotte at home Wednesday night, 132-103, thanks to intense offensive performance and a surprisingly robust defense.
Trae Young shot just 8-24 and the Hawks still shot 50% or better from the field and from three-point ground (16-32). The Hornets had fewer points since March 9 and LaMelo Ball and Terry Rozier scored a combined 15-47.
The Cavaliers, meanwhile, won the final three quarters against the Nets after being beaten 40-20 in the first 12 minutes. That wasn’t enough to come back from that initial bout and Cleveland lost, 115-108. Darius Garland tied Kyrie Irving with 34 points and rookie Evan Mobley added 19. It was clear the Cavs needed Jarrett Allen, their big star man. who is said to be trying to play.
The Hawks took the season series, 3-1. After dropping the first meeting in October, Atlanta won the next three, including a 131-107 victory two weeks ago at home. Young had 30 points and nine assists in that game and has thrived against the Cavaliers this season, scoring 41 against Cleveland in February and 35 in late January.
It will be important for the Cavaliers to limit the Hawks to the perimeter. One of the main reasons Cleveland stayed in the game against Brooklyn was that the Nets finished with only 9-28 in three-point attempts. Atlanta scored 10, 16, 14 and 17 triples in the regular season against the Cavs, who have a three-point average defense in the league.
Clearly, Cleveland needs more of its guards than Garland. Isaac Okoro, Caris LeVert and Cedi Osman scored a combined 4-19 to total just 19 points.
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Really, the Cavaliers need respectable input from their backcourt on both sides of the ball i Allen to play and play well. Bruce Brown destroyed the Cleveland defense bottom line from the free throw line and Young is a much more capable passenger and striker from that point. The 6’10 ”Allen could serve as a deterrent and the Cavaliers need him to fight Clint Capela in the cup. The Hawks’ big man swallowed 17 rebounds against the Hornets on Wednesday.
I am choosing the Hawks with confidence.
Young is not one of those who follow an inferior game with a similar performance, especially in a scenario like this with the bets they are. In addition, he has achieved the best of the Cavs all season. However, winning on the road has been a struggle for Atlanta. The team lost its last nine away games against playoff or play-in teams dated February. I think the Hawks are contracting that trend in Cleveland, where they’ve already won once this season.
BET: Hawks -2.5 (-110)
Time: 22 h | TNT
Propagation: Pelicans +1.5 (+130) | Clippers -1.5 (-154)
Moneyline: Pelicans (+145) | Clippers (-175)
Total: Less than 215.5 (-110) | More than 215.5 (-110)
A Clippers trademark collapse has the option of sleeping semi-popular on the verge of an early trip to Cancun. LA had a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter against the Timberwolves on Tuesday night and wasted it. Now, he has to play against a Pelicans team that looked dangerous in their victory on Wednesday night against the Spurs.
New Orleans scored a maximum of 32 points from CJ McCollum, Brandon Ingram added 27 after missing the last three games of the regular season and Jonas Valanciunas grabbed 14 boards to go with his 22 points. Overall, it was a solid, 113-103 victory for the Pelicans without Zion Williamson.
The season series went to New Orleans, 3-1. The Clippers won the most recent meeting on April 3, 119-100. LA drained a whopping 21 triples that night to go down to New Orleans. The Pelicans won the other three games by an average of 16.7 points.
New Orleans’ massive rebounding advantage over LA was shown at every meeting. The Clippers were outscored by more than 10 boards in each game. The Pelicans are No. 3 in the NBA on opposing rebounds and the Clippers are No. 28. The combination of Valanciunas and Hayes inside along with long wings like Ingram and Herb Jones did well to neutralize Ty Lue’s smaller lineups.
The Clippers have three main things for them against the Pelicans. LA is an elite shooting team, a much better defensive team than NOLA, oh, and they have Paul George. The All-NBA striker scored a maximum of 34 points against the Timberwolves, including six of three. However, he struggled against the Pelicans in the regular season: 20.5 points per game in 38% shooting, both well below his season average. That can’t persist in this game if LA is going to grab the 8-seed.
These might be some last famous words, but I trust the Clippers. Lue should plan a strategy to make George take an easy and annoying look at Valanciunas in the same way that the defense chased Karl-Anthony Towns. In addition, McCollum has his own struggles against the Clippers to overcome (16.5 points per game this season with 39% shooting in four games). This puts more pressure on Ingram and George has the clear advantage if he is reduced to these two. And considering the home track, where the Clippers were 25-16 and the Pelicans were 17-24 on the road, LA should win and cover that small difference.
BET: Clippers -1.5 (-154)
Check out the latest odds on SI Sportsbook
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