Once again I was asked by J.E. Skeets at Ball Don't Lie to preview the Hawks/Cavaliers series(in 300-400 words). No easy task, but I did so, and you can see it over on BDL later today. For those of you who check out FTS, here is a preview of what I had to say --
It's been a long time. No, I mean really. It has been a long time! Since the Cavaliers last played a basketball game, the world saw the start, and alleged end to a pandemic flu, the team saw one of its own win the MVP Award for the first time in franchise history, and world economy has rebounded. Ok, so that last one was a stretch, but is has been 10 days since the Cavaliers laced them up, finishing off a sweep of the Detroit Pistons.
Up next are the Atlanta Hawks, who needed 7 games to win the worst 7-game series in playoff history. All 7 games were determined by double-digits, with the average margin of victory a shade under 20-points. Ugh. You'd think the Hawks would have the advantage in Game 1 since the Cavaliers haven't played in so long, a point I would've agreed with until it was announced LeBron James won the MVP Award. With the press conference taking place today in Akron, it is likely that David Stern will present James the award in front of the home crowd before Game 1. Advantage Cavs.
In fact, all the advantages favor the Cavs after the "let's hope the Cavs are rusty" angle. The Cavaliers won 3 of 4 over the Hawks this year, including 2 dominating performances at The Q. The Hawks proved they are up to any challenge last season with the way they played against Boston. Can they duplicate the effort against the Cavaliers? I don't think they can. After a 7-game series in which they looked so bad on the road, you know the Cavaliers will win 1 of two in Atlanta. That means the Hawks need to beat Cleveland twice at The Q. No Chance.
The Hawks are young and exciting, but where the Cavaliers really have an advantage is late in the ball-game. The Cavs have become the definition of execution in the 4th quarter, tightening the clamps defensively and getting the hell out of LeBron's way on offense. The Pistons couldn't stop LeBron no matter what they did, and Atlanta has neither the experience or defensive-prowess of the Pistons. Advantage Cavs.
I expect this series to be tougher than Round 1, especially on the road. The Phillips Arena-crowd has come on strong in the post-season and they will be in full throat. It is still about talent in the NBA, however, and the Cavaliers have the better starters, the better bench and the best player on the planet. Needless to say, Advantage Cavs!
Cavaliers in 5