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Value odds and bets for Hawks vs. Cavaliers NBA playoffs series

THE upstart Atlanta Hawks will try and use their home court advantage to overcome LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers for the Eastern Conference Championship.

The Cavs are $1.47 favourites at Sportsbet.com.au, which is relatively short considering they must win at least one game away from home to advance, but the Hawks don’t have one of the best NBA players since Michael Jordan.

LeBron James knows what it takes to win an NBA title, he did it twice with the Miami Heat in 2012-2013. He also made a horrible Cavaliers team somewhat competitive in the early stages of his career.

James has been criticised in the past for being too passive in big games, but you can expect “The King” to come out firing on all cylinders as the Cavs look to down the three-ball shooting Hawks.

Hawks vs. Cavaliers series bets

Atlanta Hawks – $2.78
Cleveland Cavaliers – $1.47 at CrownBet.com.au

Not surprisingly, the Cavs have opened as the favourite for this series, but how short is too short when you’re facing the Hawks, who won the most games of any Eastern Conference team this year?

The Hawks went cold from the three-point line in their last series against Washington. Sharp-shooter Kyle Korver has averaged only 11.3 points in his last 10 games and 7.8 per game against Cleveland.

His post-season three-point average sits at .350, which pales in comparison to his regular season record of .492.

In losses this postseason, Korver has scored only 9.3 points and he wins he averages almost three more points per game, so Korver is a big key to Atlanta’s success.

Whilst the Cavaliers have LeBron, they will be without Kevin Love with injury, and LeBron’s support crew will have to perform well.

They outfought the Bulls to win that series 4-2 and it was their bench that starred in Game 6. James had only 15 points, but teammates Tristan Thompson (13), Iman Shumpert (13) and Australia’s own Matthew Dellavedova chimed in with an impressive 19 points.

If the Cav’s want to progress through to the finals, they will need this help once again. Mozgov is providing a tough inside presence and Kyrie Irving – born in Australia – is a natural talent who can score 30 points in the blink of an eye.

This series should at least go six games, with a good chance it goes seven. ‘6 Games’ is currently $2.80 at Sportsbet.com.au and ‘7 Games’ is a handy $3 with bookmakers.

The correct score market allows the more exotic-based punters to have a go. We think the Cav’s will get a 1-1 split in the first two games in Atlanta, and this pushes us towards a 4-2 win in their favour.

That is what bookmakers and punters think too, with the 4-2 option current favourite at $3.88. This is one of the hardest options to correctly predict in basketball, so include it in multi-bets for a bit of long-shot value.

Hawks vs. Cav’s series exotic bets

There are three markets regarding player performance.

Paul Milsap takes on Al Horford in the battle of the big shooters, Jeff Teague battles LeBron James as assist leader and the two mix as Horford and James are pitted against each other for top rebounder.

Two Hawks players are vying to be top points scorer in the first option and they can’t be split with bookmakers. Both Millsap and Horford are steady scorers for Atlanta, but we believe Al Horford will be used more effectively in this series.

Take the $1.87 available at Sportsbet.com.au, which can be then used in multi-bets with the Teague vs. James option.

LeBron James is the current favourite over Jeff League this head-to-head assists bet. James is currently $1.82 and Teague is at $1.91 and there is very little statistic wise to separate the two.

James has averaged 8.1 assists per game in his last eight games, but only 5.7 against Atlanta. We established that LeBron would play aggressive in this series and the assist statistics make for interesting reading.

James averages 11.5 assists per game in losses, which just shows how aggressive he needs to be in order for Cleveland to win.

Teague is steady across the board with an average of 7.4 assists this postseason and 7.0 in the regular season.

Seeing as James should be more aggressive, we’re favouring Teague as the underdog at $1.91 with CrownBet.com.au.

In the rebounding market, Al Horford takes on LeBron James and both are paying $1.87.

Predicting rebounds isn’t an easy practice, but we’ll favour the taller Al Horford in this matchup.

Hawks vs. Cavaliers Game 1 markets

Atlanta Hawks – $1.85
Cleveland Cavaliers – $2.01

If you’re favouring the Hawks in Game 1 at home, then the $1.85 price will sit nicely. The value is there with both teams, depending on who you think will win.

Considering the Cavaliers are $1.47 to win the series, $2.01 for the first game is good value. Atlanta looked a touch frail in their last series and it won’t take long for LeBron to heat up.

We’re leaning towards the Cavaliers at the even-money price. We think Atlanta will struggle with a changing pace of play that the Cavaliers possess and a closely fought contest is on the cards.

First basket odds and tips:

LeBron James – $4.95
Kyrie Irving – $6.36
DeMarre Carroll – $8
Paul Millsap – $8
Jeff Teague – $8
Al Horford – $8.20
Kyle Korver – $9.50 at WilliamHill.com.au
Iman Shumpert – $10.90
Tristan Thompson – $10.90
Timofey Mozgov – $12.75

Kyle Korver needs to play well for Atlanta to win and we think he’s a chance at scoring first here. The Hawks will need to supply the 34-year-old with plenty of ball and what better way to kick off than with a Korver three-ball.

Our tips:

Game 1 prediction – Cavaliers to win ($2.01) at CrownBet.com.au
Series prediction – Cavaliers in 4 ($3.88)
Highest scorer – Al Horford at $1.87

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