The NBA Eastern Conference Finals for the 2014-2015 season.
Atlanta Hawks vs. Cleveland Cavaliers. The Hawks are the number 1 seed, having finished with the best record in the conference (60-22). The Cavaliers finished 53-29, good for the second best in the NBA’s softer conference.
Starting tonight, when the Hawks hosts the Cavaliers at 7:30 p.m. CST, in Philips Arena in Atlanta, Georgia.
The Hawks have been to four NBA Finals, winning one. At the time of all appearances, they were located in St. Louis, Missouri. The Hawks have not returned since 1961. The Cavaliers have never won an NBA title, having participated only once, in 2007. At the time LeBron James was only 22 years old, an the Cavaliers were easily bested by the juggernaut San Antonio Spurs.
The teams have played 213 regular season games, and the Hawks own the edge in the series 117-96. They have met only once, however, in the Playoffs, in 2009. That was the last season in LeBron James’s first stint in Cleveland, and the Cavaliers swept the Hawks.
This season, the Hawks have won three of the teams’ four meetings.
The Hawks were at their best in the middle of the season, and have not looked the same for the last two months. The Cavaliers started slowly, and improved dramatically following mid-season acquisitions. Coming into the playoffs, common wisdom was that the Cavaliers were one of the top title contenders in the league. Since that time, however, Kevin Love has been lost to injury, and Kyrie Irving slowed by nagging problems of his own. Both teams have played down to their competition in some respects in the first two rounds, only to finish each series strong.
Given the Cavaliers’ injury problems, this is a tough series to call. However, while Cleveland’s record may not shine, LeBron James has been part of the last four NBA Finals, and 5 of the last 8 overall. I predict the Cavaliers in six. Should the series return to Atlanta’s home court for a game seven, I would give the nod to the home team.