Cavaliers vs. Hawks Game Preview: Cavs Travel To Atlanta Sans Ryan Hollins

Mar 19, 2012; Newark, NJ, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward Tristan Thompson (13) during the game against the New Jersey Nets at the Prudential Center. Cleveland Cavaliers defeat the New Jersey Nets 105-100. Mandatory Credit: Jim O'Connor-US PRESSWIRE

In the first game of the post-Ryan Hollins era, the Cleveland Cavaliers will travel to Atlanta to play the Hawks. It was merely a couple days ago when the Hawks stomped on the Cavs at home, and this time, the game will be played in HOTlanta. This does not bode well for the Cavaliers. However, after Hollins was waived, I'm slightly more inclined to believe in miracles.

Song Of The Day: Learning To Fly - Tom Petty

Oh boy, do I have a treat for you guys. The classic Tom Petty song...put to highlights of Anthony Parker back in his international days. Old Man Parker had some HOPS. (Hat tip to @Str8tKilla9)


Tonight's Overview:

Cleveland Cavaliers (17-26) at Atlanta Hawks (26-20)

Alright, well we just played these guys earlier this week. I assume you all watched the game and are able to determine everything that needs to be changed and don't need me to write a preview for this one. No? Okay, fine.

Sunday afternoon, the Hawks crushed the Cavs by a score of 103-87 and while Cleveland was able to close the gap briefly, it didn't last and Atlanta eventually ran away with the game. The biggest problem in this game was that nobody on the Cavaliers could guard Joe Johnson. He scored with relative ease and Byron Scott was not super pleased with the defensive efforts of anyone that he put on the 6-time all star. Old Man Parker was on him for most of the first half, but after Johnson scored a million points, Scott let Daniel Gibson start the second half. That change didn't really matter a ton as Johnson continued to be effective. Boobie Gibson hurt his ankle in the Cavs win over the Nets on Monday, so he may not even be available for tonight's contest. That pretty much just leaves Parker to guard Johnson. Unless, Scott surprises us all and gives Manny Harris some extended minutes. HARRISTERIA.

Tristan Thompson has started the past two games for the Cavs at center. On the one hand, he had a miserable debut against these very Atlanta Hawks, shooting 3 of 8 and grabbing just 6 rebounds in 35 minutes. The next day, however, he demolished the Nets by scoring a career-high 27 points with 12 rebounds. It's not easy to determine why Thompson was so much better in the second game as opposed to the first. One could argue that it's because he got more comfortable with playing center and simply started to figure things out. One could also argue that it is because he was going against the Nets frontline instead of the Hawks frontline. Zaza Pachulia was able to push Thompson around and get him out of position. I believe it was a combination of both of these factors. I expect Thompson to settle somewhere in the middle tonight -- he won't be amazing, but he won't suck.

I liked what I've seen out of Donald Sloan thus far and it looks like Scott is willing to give him the necessary minutes. Sloan will probably get 15-20 minutes again tonight and will look to continue his solid performance against the Nets. If the Cavs managed to grab a viable backup point guard out of the D-League right after trading away Ramon Sessions, I'd be pretty happy.

No more Ryan Hollins means that Samardo Samuels will likely continue to get some decent minutes. I have no idea if Coach Scott has an intention of using Semih Erden anytime soon, but I'd suspect that he's stuck on the bench for a while. I am sad to report that Luke Walton will probably be pinned to the bench as well.

Antawn Jamison has shot pretty terribly (6 of 22, 5 of 20) in his past two games. It'd be super neat if he could not shoot so terribly tonight. Alonzo Gee had an awesome game against the Hawks last time. It'd be super neat if he could do that again.

Key Matchup:

Alonzo Gee vs. Joe Johnson

Since Anthony Parker and Boobie Gibson didn't work on Johnson, why not try the Gee Man? As the Cavs best perimeter defender, Alonzo probably has the best chance at slowing down Joe. If I were the coach, that's what I would do. However, I am not the coach.

Fear The Sword's Fearless Prediction:

I'm going to be stupidly optimistic and predict that the Cavs fix the problems that they had last time against Atlanta. Gee will lock down Johnson and Jamison won't shoot 6 of 22. Kyrie Irving leads the Cavs to a 105-101 victory with 22 points.

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