The top-ranked seeds in the East Conference NBA will without doubt be up to the task of handling the long season favorites this week as the No. 1 seed Atlanta Hawks play host to LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Regardless of starting the series on the road, it's the King's Cavs that lead the pair with 13/5 odds of winning the NBA champion.
After revealing signs of mortality against both the Brooklyn Nets and Washington Wizards, the Hawks are a far cry from the the unstoppable force that they were partway through the season. Ever since, their challengers have begun to take shape and discover their form.
Even without the injured Kevin Love, the Cavaliers have readily dispatched both the Chicago Bulls and Boston Celtics thanks mostly in part to their franchise icon and home town kid. The Bulls, naturally, were a genuine conference threat that might easily have been hand picked for a spot in the Finals, making Cleveland's success recently even more admirable.
With 9/1 odds on the NBA futures, the Hawks are a long-shot in the sportsbook. That does not imply that they cannot still inflict damage on a game-to-game basis. Not only did Atlanta lead the East in wins, they achieved this with a 50-30-2 record versus the spread.