The Atlanta Hawks' strategy to slowing down LeBron James
0:59 | NBA
The Atlanta Hawks' strategy to slowing down LeBron James
Tuesday May 19th, 2015

The Cleveland Cavaliers are favored to knock off the Atlanta Hawks in the Eastern Conference Finals at sportsbooks monitored by, but they'll have to overcome their recent history in the matchup to advance to the NBA Finals this spring.

The Cavaliers and Hawks met four times during the regular season, with Cleveland winning just one games straight up and covering the posted spread twice, according to the OddsShark NBA Database. In fact, the Cavaliers have lost each of their last three games against the Hawks heading into the Eastern Finals, with the teams last battling March 6, when the Hawks pulled out a 106-97 victory as a 1.5-point home underdog.

Still, the oddsmakers are siding with the Cavaliers at the outset of the series, listing them at -225 to get past the Hawks and advance to the NBA Finals. Atlanta is the +185 underdog on the betting lines for the series, but they opened as slim 1-point home favorites for Game 1.

Cleveland also has the advantage on the latest odds to win the NBA championship, as their 13/5 odds sit behind the 4/7 Golden State Warriors. The Hawks are back at 9/1 odds to win the NBA title this season, with the Houston Rockets then at 10/1.

The Hawks needed six games in each of their first two postseason series to advance to the Eastern Conference finals, with their playoff run starting with a 4-2 win over the Brooklyn Nets. They managed to cover the posted spread at the sportsbooks in just the last two games. The under paid off on the totals in four of those six contests.

Atlanta then went 4-2 straight up but 3-3 against the spread against the Washington Wizards in the second round of the playoffs, falling behind 2-1 in that set before rebounding for the victory. Overall the Hawks are 12-8 straight up but 9-10-1 against the spread in their last 20 games.

The Cavaliers swept the Boston Celtics in four games in the first round of the playoffs, covering the spread at the sportsbooks in three of those contests. Cleveland then needed six games to get past the Chicago Bulls in the second round, earning just two against the spread victories in that series. Cleveland also found themselves trailing 2-1 in the second round before bouncing back for the series victory; they're 15-5 straight up but 8-12 against the spread in their 20 most recent games.

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