The Cleveland Cavaliers (20-15) will play host to the Atlanta Hawks (15-19) in a New Year’s Eve contest at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. Tipoff is set for 7:30 p.m. ET. These teams have only met once in the regular season this year, back on October 23rd when the Cavs escaped with a 101-95 victory. Atlanta’s now coming off of two straight losses to the Bulls — and three losses in a row — while the Cavs have lost three of their last four outings.
According to DraftKings Sportsbook, the Cavs are favored by one point at home. They’re priced similarly on the moneyline, with Atlanta at -105 and Cleveland at -115. The point total is set at 215.5.
The Hawks are currently being hit hardest in the league by COVID-19, with 12 players in health and safety protocols: Bogdan Bogdanovic, John Collins, Sharife Cooper, Gorgui Dieng, Malik Ellison, Danilo Gallinari, Kevin Huerter, Jalen Johnson, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, Onyeka Okongwu, Lou Williams, and Delon Wright.
The Cavs have just three players in protocols, with Jarrett Allen, Darius Garland, and Cedi Osman all landing on that list. They’ll also be without Collin Sexton (knee) and Ricky Rubio (torn ACL), who are both out for the rest of the season.
Pick ATS: Cavaliers -1 (-110)
While the Hawks are just wrecked with players missing, they at least still have arguably their two best players Trae Young and Clint Capela. Both of them have gone through COVID-19 protocols and cleared. However, the Cavaliers aren’t being hit as hard with injuries right now but they are missing their top three leading scorers in Darius Garland, Jarrett Allen, and Collin Sexton. Losing Ricky Rubio for the season is a big blow for Cleveland as well, but they’ll still have guys like Evan Mobley and Lauri Markkanen who can help fill the void.
It’ll be a close one either way, but I’m leaning toward Cleveland to cover since they’re a league-best 25-8-2 ATS this season, while Atlanta is 13-21, and 6-11 on the road. The Cavs are 13-3-1 ATS at home and keep finding ways to cover, so that’s where my money would land.
Over/Under: Under 215.5 (-110)
Atlanta has gone over the total just twice in their last five outings, with both of those games coming against the Bulls when Chicago scored 130 and 131, respectively. The Cavs have also only gone over the total twice in their last five, with the under hitting six times in their last eight. Atlanta still has guys like Young and Capela who can put up big numbers; Young hasn’t scored less than 25 in the month of December. It may not be enough to push this game over the total.
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