Hawks vs. Cavaliers NBA Picks and Odds Breakdown

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John Collins #20 of the Atlanta Hawks blocks Jarrett Allen #31 of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images/AFP

The Cleveland Cavaliers are coming off getting a beat down from the Wizards on Thursday.

Will they be able to bounce back on no rest tonight against the visiting Atlanta Hawks? Let’s break down the NBA odds for this matchup.

Atlanta Hawks vs. Cleveland Cavaliers

Friday, December 31, 2021 – 07:30 PM EST at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse

Cleveland Banged Up At Guard

With Collin Sexton and now Ricky Rubio out for the year, plus the hopefully short term loss of Darius Garland to health and safety protocols, the Cavs are hurting at the guard position. Kevin Pangos, a Canadian combo guard has now been forced into ball-handling duties and, at least for last night, things weren’t pretty.

The Cavs mustered only 51 first half points and 93 for the game against a Wizards team that has seen their fair share of struggles on defense this season. While I am sure the Cavs can bounce back and get the win here tonight, they likely won’t be able to muster much offense again with a similar lineup headed out for this game.

On top of it being a back to back, the Cavs’ guard injuries have limited their offense a lot, but their defense could be getting another boost here on Friday night. Jarrett Allen is questionable for this game and with Evan Mobley back for the last couple games, the Cavs are going to have a huge size advantage on the Hawks.

While Clint Capela has been back for a few games, the Hawks are without Gorgui Dieng and Onyeka Okongwu due to protocols, which limits them to one center and a bunch of undersized big men behind him.

That being said, if Allen is back tonight, the Cavs have a ton of defensive upside. Outside of Trae Young, Cam Reddish and John Collins, the Hawks are dealing with a ton of injuries that hurts their offensive upside a lot here.

While the Hawks’ offense may be top heavy, their usually shaky defense gets a boost here from a banged up Cavaliers team and that's where I’m looking for value here tonight.

The Sharp Pick

So far this season, the one area the Cavaliers have truly excelled at is defense, especially at home and in the first half. Cleveland ranks tops in the league in that department by nearly 2.5 points per 100 possessions over the second-best Minnesota Timberwolves. That is going to play here, especially if Allen can make his return.

The twin towers lineup has excelled for some teams and hurt others this season and Cleveland is defintely the former. Allen and Mobley down low is going to be incredibly hard for the Hawks to score on if Allen plays, especially because the Hawks are shorthanded and undersized comparatively.

One other area that could help us is that the Hawks’ offense has really struggled lately in first halves. Some of these last five they have been without Young, but over their last five games, the Hawks are only averaging 101.6 points per 100 possessions in the first half.

If Cleveland’s defense isn’t too tired from last night, I see them holding the Hawks down in the first half. Along with both team’s potential offensive struggles, for our NBA pick tonight, it makes for a good under play on the first half total.

NBA Pick: 1st Half Under 110.5 (-110) at Bovada (visit our Bovada Review)

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1st Half Under 110.5 (-110)
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