Cleveland Cavaliers vs Atlanta Hawks NBA Preview 2/15/2022

Via Getty Images

Cleveland Cavaliers vs Atlanta Hawks NBA Preview 2/15/2022

NBA

Cleveland Cavaliers vs Atlanta Hawks NBA Preview 2/15/2022

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Via Getty Images

The Cleveland Cavaliers head down to Atlanta to take on the Hawks for an Eastern Conference showdown with tip-off scheduled to take place at 7:30pm EST. Cleveland comes into this game sitting in third place of the Eastern Conference standings holding a record of 35-22. They are 17-13 on the road this season and come into this matchup having won seven of their last ten games. They have been one of the more surprising teams this season due to their impressive rise to the top of the standings. As for the Hawks, they have been one of the more disappointing teams thus far now sitting at a record of 26-30, good for tenth in the Eastern Conference standings. They have split their last ten games evenly and are looking to get back on track after dropping two straight. They have a 16-13 home record this season and will want to defend home court against their Eastern rivals. After an Eastern Conference Finals trip last season, the Hawks have seemed to take a step back in their progression but still have some time to make it up. These two squads have met twice already this season, with each team taking one game. Both games were in Cleveland and now the scene shifts over to Atlanta for tonight and their final meeting in March. This game features two young teams that have gone two different routes thus far in the season but still has some firepower on the rosters.

How Cleveland can win: This Cavs team was already good before the trade deadline and now they have acquired forward Caris LeVert from the Indiana Pacers to round out their roster. He has enhanced their lineup since the trade, averaging 14.7 points per game in the three games he has played for Cleveland. LeVert gives Cleveland another scoring option on offense and takes some of the pressure off their other young star players. One of their young players is center Jarrett Allen, who recently was announced as an All-Star game replacement. Allen has had a great season and is a huge reason why Cleveland has taken a large step into playoff contenders. He has averaged 16.2 points and 11.1 rebounds per game this season, both of which are career-highs.

Allen and others have also helped anchor this defense, making Cleveland one of the best in the league. They are first in the NBA, holding opponents to 102.1 points per game and third in shooting percentage, allowing only 44 percent shooting from the field. Their defense has been a major reason for them winning games and it starts with the pure length and size they have from their players. Taking on this Hawks team, the Cavs will need to rely on their strong defense to take away easy shot opportunities and make sure they close out on the Hawks three-point shooters.

How Atlanta can win: For Atlanta, their strength comes at the offensive side of the court as they rank ninth in the NBA in scoring. They average 111.7 points per game and are third overall in three-point shooting at 37.3 percent. This Hawks team has struggled with consistency all season but can shoot the lights out if given time to space the floor. They are led by guard Trae Young who is averaging 27.7 points and 9.4 assisters per game. Young is one of the more explosive guards in the league with his ability to shoot from almost anywhere on the court and he has the ability to take defenders off the dribble and attack the painted area. If Young can get going early and establish a rhythm, it could be a long night for the Cavs.

For Atlanta, they will need to step it up on the defense side of the floor if they want to take down Cleveland. The Hawks continue to have to send help to mask their undersized guards on the perimeter, which causes easy routes to the basket at times. Cleveland has many different ways they can score on offense, so it’ll be up to the Hawks to try and take away passing lanes and limit fouls. Additionally, if they can win the turnover battle, it could help in their favor as it would take away some easy transition points for Cleveland.

The Spread Via FanDuel:

Moneyline CLE: (-122) | ATL: (+104)

Spread: CLE: -2 (-110) | ATL: +2 (-110)

Final Prediction: Cleveland Cavaliers 112 Atlanta Hawks 111

-This game features offensive strength vs defensive strength and should make for a good contest. Normally great offense beats great defense, but Cleveland has been one of the more consistent teams this season while Atlanta has not. The Hawks will be without forward John Collins tonight, who really does make a difference for this team. Give me the road team to pick up another victory here in a close game and help them keep pace in their quest for the first seed in the East.

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