Cleveland Cavaliers at Atlanta Hawks (+3, 199)
Cavaliers lead series 2-0
The Cleveland Cavaliers are fresh off the greatest 3-point shooting performance in NBA history and look to once again dismantle the host Atlanta Hawks in Friday’s Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. Cleveland knocked down a record 25 3-pointers – the most in the regular season or postseason – while rolling to a 123-98 win that represents its 10th consecutive playoff victory over the Hawks.
Shooting guard J.R. Smith made seven 3-pointers en route to 23 points while point guard Kyrie Irving and small forward LeBron James each made four as the Cavaliers turned the arena into their personal shooting gallery. “(It) was a special night for all of us who played,” James told reporters afterward. “This league has seen so many great teams, so many great players and great shooters and for us to set an all-time record is truly special.” Atlanta was demoralized while facing a 74-38 halftime deficit and shooting guard Kyle Korver was in disbelief over what he was viewing. “When they put those shots down, I don’t know if anyone can beat them, to be honest,” Korver told reporters. “We were hoping that they’d start missing at some point.”
TV: 7 p.m. ET, ESPN
LINE HISTORY: The Cavaliers opened up as 2.5-point favorite on the road for this Game 3 matchup, but the betting public jumped all over that line and the books were forced to move the Cavs to -3. The total opened at 200 and dropped slightly to 199 by Thursday evening. Check out the complete line history here.
ABOUT THE CAVALIERS (63-25, 41-44-3 ATS, 44-44 O/U): Cleveland made 40 3-pointers over the first two games of the series with a supremely confident Smith leading the way by going 11-of-20 from behind the arc. “Honestly, I feel like that every time I play, to be honest with you,” Smith told reporters of his high confidence level. “Whenever I shoot the ball, I have confidence that it’s going to go in.” The Cavaliers made 18 3-pointers in the first half – eight in the opening quarter, 10 in the second – and 10 different players made at least one.
ABOUT THE HAWKS (52-38, 45-44-1 ATS, 40-50 O/U): Atlanta faces a do-or-die situation in Game 3 and would like to avoid being swept in a playoff series by the Cavaliers for the second straight season. Coach Mike Budenholzer put on the brave face even though his team is reeling and appears to ready to cave. “It’s one game,” Budenholzer told reporters after the Game 2 trouncing. “They won their two games on their home court. Now we’re going home.”
* Cavaliers are 5-0 ATS in their last 5 vs. NBA Southeast.
* Hawks are 1-6 ATS in their last 7 games following a straight up loss.
* Over is 5-1 in Cavaliers last 6 road games vs. a team with a home winning % of greater than .600.
* Under is 7-1 in Hawks last 8 after allowing 100 points or more in their previous game.
* Cavaliers are 6-0 ATS in the last 6 meetings.
San Antonio Spurs at Oklahoma City Thunder (+2, 200)
Series tied 1-1
San Antonio power forward LaMarcus Aldridge has been unstoppable in the Western Conference semifinals but all that production has only provided the Spurs with a split. Aldridge and San Antonio look to move ahead in the series with the host Oklahoma City Thunder when the teams resume play in Friday’s Game 3.
Aldridge is 33-of-44 shooting in the two games while putting up 38 and 41 points as the Thunder were powerless to slow him down. “One man can’t beat you, so we’re fine with that,” Oklahoma City backup guard Dion Waiters told reporters. “If they want to continue to get out of their offense and throw the ball down there to him, we’re fine with that. One guy can’t beat us, no matter how much he scores.” The Thunder lost the first game of the series by 32 points before putting forth a much better effort in Monday’s controversial 98-97 victory – a contest in which the NBA said there were five officiating calls missed in the final 13.5 seconds. “It’s over now,” Aldridge told reporters the following day. “You can’t keep harping on it.”
TV: 9:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
LINE HISTORY: This is one where the line history link at the end of this paragraph is well worth clicking. The Thunder opened as 1.5-point favorites at home after returning from San Antonio with a split of the first two games. The public bet the Spurs so hard that the books didn’t just drop the line a point or two – they flipped the line and installed the Spurs as 1.5-point favorites on the road. Bettors continued to wager on the Spurs so the books moved their line another half point to -2. The total opened at 199 and gradually made its way up to 200 by Thursday evening. Check out the complete line history here.
ABOUT THE SPURS (72-16, 48-40 ATS, 37-49-2 O/U): Aldridge has scored nearly 36 percent of San Antonio’s points in the series but he wasn’t feeling all that great about his Game 2 performance due to the result. “It feels horrible, feels like it was wasted,” Aldridge told reporters. “I’ve never been about trying to get points and not win – I always try to do things to win. If you win, it’s totally a different feeling, but losing like that hurts.” Small forward Kawhi Leonard is averaging 19.5 points in the series but had a disappointing showing on Monday with 14 points on 7-of-18 shooting.
ABOUT THE THUNDER (60-29, 41-47-1 ATS, 43-46 O/U): After being dominated in the opening game of the series, Oklahoma City started strong and carried the pace for most of Game 2. “Not only the pace, but we were playing smarter and better,” power forward Serge Ibaka told reporters. “We were attacking in the fast break when we had to and when we didn’t have an opportunity we slowed it down and ran a play.” Point guard Russell Westbrook had 29 points and 10 assists in Game 2 after having just 14 points on 5-of-19 shooting in the opener, and small forward Kevin Durant also had a much-improved showing with 28 points on 11-of-19 shooting after being held to 16 on 6-of-15 shooting in Game 1.
* Spurs are 1-6 ATS in their last 7 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600.
* Thunder are 0-5 ATS in their last 5 Friday games.
* Under is 13-3 in Spurs last 16 road games vs. a team with a winning home record.
* Under is 8-2 in the last 10 meetings in Oklahoma City.
* Spurs are 2-11 ATS in the last 13 meetings in Oklahoma City.