The Cleveland Cavaliers are playing a Game 3 against the Atlanta Hawks this evening and, as you might imagine, there’s a lot at stake. The winner of Game 3 will take a 3-0 series lead into the next installment, while the loser will have to fight back to even the series. That’s a lot of pressure on a single game, especially coming from a franchise that’s never hidden its desire to eliminate pressure from the game.
As a result, there’s been a lot of action and some very interesting props surrounding this game. While the Cleveland Cavaliers have remained relatively stable, the betting public has largely backed the Hawks and the over/under for this game has gone from 7 to 7.5 goals, which is not exactly a sharp contrast to the rest of the series. What does all of this mean? Let’s consider the facts:
Cleveland Has The Home-Field Advantage
Every game in this series has been played in Cleveland, which is a definite plus for the home team. The last three games have been sold out, further evidencing just how engaged the fanbase is for this series. It wouldn’t be a total surprise if the majority of the 12,000 in attendance tonight are wearing orange and white.
However, even with the vast majority of the city behind them, the Atlanta Hawks have found a way to win two of the last three games in Cleveland. That means they’ll be looking to take a measure of revenge for the 4-1 series loss in the first round. The last thing the Hawks want is to go back home with a defeat. That’s why this game has such high stakes, which can clearly be felt by those watching or betting on it.
The fact that the game is being played in Cleveland is also a definite advantage for the home team. Even before the series shifted to the Midwest, the Indians fielded one of the most potent home-field advantages in the majors. As a result, there shouldn’t be any doubting who has home-court advantage in this series. It’s the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The underdog is another trait the Cleveland Cavaliers have going for them. Owing to their regular season record of 28-48, the Hawks were considered the underdogs going into this series. Although they shocked the basketball world by making it to the second round, the Atlanta Hawks have proven to be a force to be reckoned with in the postseason. Much like the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Atlanta team has also been able to shock the world by coming from behind to win several close games in this series. Even their regular season record didn’t prepare anyone for the level of play the Hawks have displayed in this series.
In Game 3, the underdog trait could easily work in the Hawks’ favor. They’re playing at home and they’re coming off two straight victories, which leaves them confident of taking the series lead. The problem is identifying the underdogs in this series is tricky. Not only do the teams have a fairly even record, but their winning percentages in the regular season are also in opposition. For instance, the Cleveland Cavaliers led the NBA in offensive efficiency during the regular season, but were held back by the fact that they were one of the worst defensive teams in the league. That’s not the case this season as the Cavaliers have steadily improved their defense, which has led to upticks in their win percentage and scoring average in the process.
As a result, if you’re looking for an underdog in this series, you’ll need to look no further than the Cleveland Cavaliers. They were the clear underdogs going into this season and have proven to be quite the opposite. If you’d listened to the experts who advised you against picking them to make the playoffs, you’d be holding a winning ticket tonight. Despite the overwhelming odds, the Cavs have managed to defy the experts and have shocked the basketball world. It’ll be fascinating to see if they can keep up this level of play in the coming days, particularly as they’ll be facing a rested and determined Hawks team coming off two days off and looking to close out the series.
The way this series has played out, especially in Game 3, there’s no question as to which team is the underdog in the matchup. The Cleveland Cavaliers have come out on top in two straight games. Considering how they’ve played, it’s hard not to see this as a victory for the ages.