Atlanta Hawks at Cleveland Cavaliers
Quicken Loans Arena, Friday 15th April, 7:30pm (EDT)
So here we go, the last day of the season before we hit the playoffs proper, and we start in Cleveland as the Cavaliers play host to the Atlanta Hawks.
This one opened with the Cavs as a short 1.5-point favourite, however that has quickly flipped, with the Hawks now a short 2-point favourite. I was quite amazed that the Cavs started favourites in this one, and it proved correct in this instance.
The Hawks are coming of a dominant win in their first play-in game against the Hornets, running out commanding 132-103 victors in a game that was never in doubt. They were led by Trae Young (24p, 11a) and Clinton Capela (17p, 15r) in a game where their starters got a nice rest down the stretch.
The Cavs meanwhile come of a competitive loss at the Nets on Tuesday, going down 115-108. Darius Garland led the way with 34 points, whilst Evan Mobley chipped in 19 points. But after a horrible 1st quarter they never really challenged, and now must pick themselves up from that effort and try and compete against a Hawks side who has looked tremendous lately, particularly on offense.
In team news, John Collins and Lou Williams are still out for the Hawks, whilst Bogan Bogdanovic will be a game time decision. Collins is a decent out, but these losses should not affect the Hawks too badly. The Cavs, on the other hand, are still without big man Jarrett Allen, which has proved to be a massive loss for this team, particularly on defense. Since Allen has been out, the Cavaliers have managed a 6-11 record, and their fantastic start to the season has started to peter out.
The Hawks have won the past 3 contests between these teams, and I expect it to continue here, with the Hawks destined to meet up with the Miami Heat in the first round of the NBA Playoffs.
The total looks solid, but if you must bet, I’d go the over, based purely on the Hawks offense lately.
New Orleans Pelicans at Los Angeles Clippers
Crypto.com Arena, Friday 15th April, 10:00pm (EDT)
In the final game of the play-in, the New Orleans Pelicans head to Los Angeles, to take on the Clippers at the Crypto.com Arena. With no Lakers in the post season this year, will this be the last game at the recently re-named Arena, or will the Clippers extend their season out west.
In the first round of the play-in, the Clippers held a nice lead heading into the final quarter against the Timberwolves, however, were unable to close the game down the stretch, meaning they will have to get to the playoffs the hard way. They were led by Paul George (34p, 7r, 5a) and Reggie Jackson (17p, 7r, 5a).
The Pelicans, on the other hand, played a solid first up match and were never really challenged by the Spurs, running out 113-103 winners. CJ McCollum (32p, 7a, 6r) and Brandon Ingram (27p, 5r, 5a) were helped by Jonas Valanciunas (22p, 14r) in a performance worthy of a playoff team.
These teams last played only 2 weeks ago at Crypto.com Arena, where the Clippers ran out easy 119-100 winners. With the squads looking similar and the Clippers holding a solid experience advantage, I believe the Clippers is the only side to bet in this game. The game opened with the Clippers as 5.5-point favourites, with money pouring in on the Pelicans (+4).
Looking at the total, the number seems much lower than one would expect when looking at totals towards the end of this season. But this game screams of a low, slow grind. The Clippers showed some good defensive signs against the Timberwolves, and to only give up 109 points to that juggernaut, they should be happy. I like the unders and Pelicans unders in this one.
Player props wise, we will stick with the CJ McCollum overs, and sprinkle a little on Paul George props.
New Orleans Pelicans (team total under 106.5) (-110) – 1u
CJ McCollum over 5.5 assists (+110) 1u
Paul George over 27.5 points (-115) 1u
Paul George over 41.5 Pts,Rebs,Ast (-110) 1u