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Cavaliers Close to Clinching Eastern Conference Top Seed

Friday night’s NBA calendar is highlighted with an Eastern Conference showdown with playoff implications when the Atlanta Hawks visit the Cleveland Cavaliers. The current line has Cleveland favored by 9.5 points with the over/under point total on 214.

Entering this game, Atlanta has an overall record of 40-38 straight up and 36-42 against the spread. On the road, the Hawks are 19-20 SU and 21-18 ATS. Cleveland on the season is 51-27 SU and 35-40-3 ATS. At home, the Cavaliers are 31-8 SU and 19-17-3 ATS.

Cleveland is close to clinching the No. 1 seed in the East and with a win Friday will be one step closer. The Cavaliers defeated Boston on Wednesday 114-91 to move 1 ½ games in front of Boston with just four games remaining.

Cleveland has averaged 123.4 points per game during its current four-game winning streak. The Cavaliers winning margin has been 17 points or more in three of the four wins during that same stretch.

Atlanta is holding a lead of just one-half game over Milwaukee for the No. 5 seed in the conference after a 123-116 win on Thursday over Boston. The win was just the Hawks third in its past 12 games played.

All-Star forward Paul Millsap led Atlanta in scoring with 26 points. However, he will not play Friday as he has just returned from a knee injury and the team does not want to play him in the second part of a back to back series.

Atlanta scored 71 points during the first half against Boston, fueled by the play of Millsap, but his absence could hurt the Hawks chances of winning.

Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 36 points,  a career high, last month versus Cleveland and has averaged 19 per game over his past 4 games for the Hawks, including 23 Thursday versus Boston.

Kyrie Irving led Cleveland with 43 points in the Cavaliers win last month against Atlanta. In that game, Cleveland set a record in the NBA by hitting 25 shots from 3-point territory.

Kevin Love has returned from his back injury strong, by posting four consecutive double-doubles averaging 20.2 points and 12.2 rebounds per game during Cleveland’s four-game winning streak.

Atlanta is 4-1 ATS in its past 5 games on the road.

Cleveland is 9-3-1 ATS in its past 13 games against opponents from the Southeast division.

Prediction: Cleveland is starting to return to form with Love back in the lineup and the playoffs just around the corner. Lean here toward the Cavaliers less the points.

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