Signature Wins. It's a buzzword in the NBA, created to either lend credence to, or tear apart any argument for which team(s) are true championship contenders. Every team goes through a period where opposing fans and media alike clamor for that 'Signature Win' . The Cavaliers struggled last season, going 2-7 against Boston, Orlando and LA. For many, it was a sign of things to come in the playoffs - and in large part they were right.
Anyhow, I digress. This season, the Cavaliers are chock-full of signature wins. Just in the last week, the Cavaliers have dominated the Suns, Lakers and Rockets - all Western Conference playoff regulars - bringing in to question where LA or Phoenix's signature wins are(until Phoneix beat up on the Lakers last night).
That signature win carousel continues to spin tonight when the Cavaliers take on the surprising Atlanta Hawks. Better yet, the two teams get to do it twice with Atlanta returning the favor tomorrow night.
This game has several story, both recent and historical. The Hawks, with a healthy 21-8 record, are trying to join the Top-3 in the East. This far into the season, you have to list the Hawks as a definite threat to any team in the East, Cleveland included, and these two games will be a great test to that.
The Hawks also need to look no further than last season's Eastern Conference Semi's when the Cavs unceremoniously swept them from the post-season in four relatively easy, mostly uneventful games. If Atlanta is going to prove to the NBA world, and more importantly, themselves, that they are indeed for real. Another in a long-line of teams that has a score to settle with LeBron and Co.
For the Cavaliers it looks like these two games come at the perfect time. If they haven't gelled as a unit yet, it is getting extremely close. The Cavaliers have found a way to get Shaq involved with slowing down and now Zydrunas Ilgauskas is beginning to feel comfortable coming off the bench. Delonte West has been solid over the past couple of weeks and Mo WIlliams is proving to everyone why he's an All-Star. The motivation should be there for the Cavs to swat away another wanna-be heir to the top of the Eastern Conference.
In preparation of the game, read this excellent piece on SBNation's Hawks site - Peachtree Hoops. While I disagree with much of it, I found it well-written and enjoyable.
I'll likely miss the first quarter, so fill up the game thread and I will join you as soon as I can. GO CAVS!