2016-NBA-Play offs-Cleveland at Atlanta game 3 preview

**Cleveland at Atlanta**

— The East semifinals move to Philips Arena in Atlanta for Game 3 on Friday night. Cleveland ventures south with a 2-0 series advantage. The Cavaliers have won nine in a row over the Hawks while going 8-1 ATS. They are 5-0 both SU and ATS in the five head-to-head meetings this season.

— The Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas opened Cleveland (63-25 straight up, 41-44-3 against the spread) as a 2.5-point road favorite with a total of 200 points. Those number hadn’t budged as of Friday afternoon. The Cavs are -145 on the money line, leaving the Hawks at +125 on the comeback (risk $100 to win $125). Tyron Lue’s squad is a 1.5-point ‘chalk’ for first-half wagers.

— Cleveland absolutely destroyed Atlanta in Wednesday’s Game 2 by a 123-98 count as a seven-point home favorite. The 221 combined points soared ‘over’ the 196-point total. The Cavs cashed tickets for both first quarter (-2.5, -115) and first-half wagers (-4.5) for a second straight time. With the game tied at 16-16, Lue’s club went on a 19-4 run to go ahead 35-20 heading into the second quarter. That’s when this game turned real ugly, as Cleveland exploded with a flurry of 3-pointers en route to a 74-38 advantage at halftime.

— Cleveland drained 25 treys in Game 2 to set an all-time NBA record. Ten different players connected from deep led by J.R. Smith’s seven 3-balls. The Cavs shot at a 55.6 percent clip from long range. LeBron James scored 27 points, grabbed four rebounds, dished out five assists and made three steals. Smith scored 23 points, while Kyrie Irving contributed 19 points and six assists compared to merely one turnover.

— Atlanta (52-38 SU, 45-44-1 ATS) was led by Paul Millsap’s 16 points and 11 rebounds. Jeff Teague had 14 points and six assists. Kris Humphries (12), Mike Muscala (10), Al Horford (10) and Thabo Sefolosha (10) were also in double figures. Atlanta head coach wisely rested all of his starters for the entire fourth quarter.

— I’ve been perplexed with Budenholzer’s decision in these playoffs to give Muscala the minutes Humphries was getting late in the regular season. Humphries played an average of 14 minutes in the 21 games he played after being acquired by Atlanta, averaging 6.4 points and 3.4 rebounds per game. He has only been given minutes twice in eight postseason games. Granted, they came at garbage time, but Humphries has continued to play well. In Game 2, he produced 12 points, nine rebounds, one assist and one steal in just 15 minutes of playing time. In his only appearance in the Boston series, Humphries finished with eight points, four rebounds and one assists in merely eight minutes of faction.

— When a team is getting blasted like Atlanta was Wednesday during a seven-game series in the playoffs, you have to show some toughness and pride. Down by 36 at intermission, the game was over. But the mental warfare was still being waged. While the Cavs were gunning for the 3-point record and their bench was basically holding a dance party the entire night, the Hawks didn’t display any physicality whatsoever. You never want to hurt another player but, again, this is the playoffs. It’s completely inexcusable that no Atlanta player didn’t give any hard fouls in the lane in the second half.

— When meeting with the media afterwards, several Atlanta players, including their two veteran leaders in Millsap and Horford, expressed unhappiness with the way the Cavs went about bombing triples in the final stanza in an effort to break the NBA record. Instead of complaining afterwards, a Hawks’ player should’ve just given a statement foul by knocking a Cavs’ 3-point shooter on his ass. Am I implying a quasi cheap shot? You damn right I am. This is the playoffs. A team has to have a backbone unless it’s resigned to going on vacation sooner rather than later.

— Cleveland owns a 26-17 SU record and a 18-22-3 ATS mark in its road assignments this year.

— Atlanta has compiled a 30-14 SU record and a 24-20 ATS ledger at home this season. As David noted, the Hawks were home underdogs three times this year, going 1-2 both SU and ATS.

— The ‘under’ is 50-40 overall for the Hawks, 25-19 in their home outings.

— Totals have been an overall wash (44-44) for the Cavs this season. The ‘under’ is 23-20 in their road assignments.