With the majority of teams already getting their “post-All-Star break feet” wet on Thursday, Friday night’s slate offers eight more games for basketball bettors to sink their eager teeth into. Tipping off at 7:30 p.m. ET, the Cleveland Cavaliers (38-24) will head south to battle the Atlanta Hawks (29-30) at State Farm Arena. With both teams currently inside the Eastern Conference playoff picture, which squad will start the stretch run on the right foot?
Cleveland is on a back-to-back after losing to the Nuggets at home. Additionally, the Cavs and Hawks have only matched up once so far this season, with Cleveland winning 114-102 at home back on November 21.
The Hawks dismissed coach Nate McMillan over the All-Star break. For the moment, Joe Prunty has been elevated to interim-head coach. Prunty has served as an interim-coach before, leading the Milwaukee Bucks to a 21-16 record back in 2018. Still, will he be able to mesh more cohesively with Atlanta’s star, Trae Young? McMillan’s frustrating relationship with Young was well-documented. John Collins is out for Atlanta with a concussion, while Young is set to play after a personal absence from practice. The Cavaliers aren’t resting anyone on the second night of a back-to-back.
DraftKings Sportsbook has Atlanta listed as a 1-point favorite in its own building on Friday. If you like the Cavaliers to pull off the road upset, they are a short moneyline underdog at -105 while the Hawks are -115 to win outright. The total is set at 227.5.
Cavaliers vs. Hawks, 7:30 p.m. ET
Pick ATS: Cavaliers +1
Considering Atlanta’s recent changing of the guard and how poorly they have played lately, I’ll need to see some change in the Hawks – especially on defense – before playing them as a favorite. Given the circumstances (such as a 1-point spread), and thinking about how well Cleveland matched up with Atlanta last time out, I would even be inclined to play the Cavs (-105) on the moneyline. Cleveland is 13-17 on the road this season, both straight up and ATS. Conversely, the Hawks are 15-12 overall at home, while playing to a 12-14-1 ATS record in their own building.
Over/Under: Under 227.5
Based on the themes above, I’ll need to see what the latest version of the Hawks’ offense looks like post-McMillan before taking the over on any of Atlanta’s total. The Hawks were scoring 115.6 points per game at home before the break. Additionally, Cleveland only allows 107.5 ppg when traveling in 2022-23. On the other side, the Hawks’ defense may not be the stingiest, but the Cavs’ offense works slowly. In their lone meeting this season, the Hawks and Cavs combined for only 216 total points. Take the under here.