Submitted by Jim Hurley on Monday, May 25, 2015 at 7:00 PM
It took forever for the Atlanta Hawks to get mad about something. After weeks of struggling to get past Brooklyn and Washington in a way that should have embarrassed them…and then after two HOME losses to Cleveland….it took little Mathew Dellavedova diving on the floor to light a fire under the Eastern Conference’s top seed!
Atlanta apparently decided Dellavedova made a dirty play on the collision that put Kyle Korver on the shelf for the rest of the playoffs (looked like your standard loose ball dive to most eyes!). Then, after things got chippy in Game Three with Al Horford…the gloves came off (then Horford was escorted off the floor).
Still…too little too late!
Atlanta lifted their effort from eight and 12-point home losses to force overtime on the road while shorthanded. It was the first great game of the series. And, really the first time it seemed like Atlanta realized they had to FIGHT if they want to win a championships. Yet, the same weaknesses that had troubled the Hawks all through the series still proved to be the ultimate tie-breaker after overtime. Check out the numbers and see if you can find the familiar themes.
GAME THREE STATS
Cleveland 114, Atlanta 111
Shooting Pct: Atlanta 41%, Cleveland 41%
Three-Pointers: Atlanta 11/30, Cleveland 14/36
Free Throws: Atlanta 28/32, Cleveland 20/29
Rebounds: Atlanta 42, Cleveland 56
Turnovers: Atlanta 7, Cleveland 13
Vegas Line: Cleveland by 8, total of 190.5
You can tell things got physical with those free throw counts. That’s 61 here after the first two games only reached 43 and 39. Atlanta also started making some treys…which is the main reason their scoring jumped. But…look at the numbers in these telltale categories…
Game One: Cavs win treys 10-4 and rebounding 49-37
Game Two: Cavs win treys 12-6 and rebounding 47-39
Game Three: Cavs win treys 14-11 and rebounding 56-42
Atlanta made more treys in Game Three than they had in the first two outings combined…but that was only enough to get close on the scoreboard. Many in the media are talking about LeBron James being a one-man show. He’s been horrible on three-pointers in the postseason…and Cleveland is winning this series from long range! Be sure YOU know what’s really happening. The Cavaliers are owning long range scoring (+45 points through three games) and the battle of the boards (+34 rebounds through three games). Atlanta has to fight AND box out!
Tuesday’s Game Four Line: Cleveland by 8, total of 190.5
Not much of a market adjustment from the Sunday closer. Cleveland is still seen as the superior team…and there’s a little air in there just in case the Hawks go in the tank.
Looks like Atlanta’s mindset is going to be the determining factor here. They covered Game Three, and can surely stay within that tall price if they’re still in the mood to fight. If the Hawks have thrown in the towel? Cleveland can jump to a 10-15 point lead before running out the clock in a replay of Game Six of the Cavs/Bulls series.
JIM HURLEY will be working very closely with his on-site sources to get the right read on both teams. Word comes in one way…and we may have an upset call with a decent-sized underdog. Word comes in the other way…and it’s a major release on a favorite in a wrap-up game before a long rest break. As we’ve been saying all through the playoffs…INFORMATION IS EVERYTHING when it comes to picking the NBA Playoffs!
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Wednesday: Game Five Preview…Houston at Golden State or an MLB Big Game Preview for the Washington Nationals at the Chicago Cubs if Warriors finished off a sweep Monday
Thursday: Game Five Preview… Cleveland at Atlanta or MLB Series Preview Detroit Tigers at the Los Angeles Angels
Friday: MLB Series Preview: Kansas City Royals at Chicago Cubs
Saturday: MLB Big Game Preview: Los Angeles Dodgers at St. Louis Cardinals
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