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Game #15 Preview: Cleveland Cavaliers at Atlanta Hawks

So we're all just going to pretend that game against the Bulls didn't happen, right? What's that? What game? Exactly.

So let's travel to Atlanta and play the Hawks. The Hawks are good. The Cavs haven't looked very good lately. This should be fun.

Song Of The Day: Brick House - The Commodores

(Insert joke about all of the bricked shots from last night)

Tonight's Overview:

Cleveland Cavaliers (6-8) at Atlanta Hawks (11-5)

After that brutal 7-game road trip, the Cavs got a nice 2 game stint at home and then have to hit the road again. They lost their two home games and now travel to Hotlanta (does anyone call it that?) where the Hawks are without their best player. As we saw last night, however, that doesn't really matter against this team. The Bulls were without Derrick Rose and still managed to hand the Cavs their worst home loss in franchise history.

Al Horford is out for another few months, but the Hawks still have more than enough talent to handle the Cavs. Jeff Teague is one of the top defensive point guards in the league, and should cause some problems for Kyrie Irving. I know that we all loved what we saw out of Irving in the first couple weeks of the season, but this next stretch is when we find out what he's really made of. After a hot start against the Bulls, they clamped down their defense and gave him fits. Teague is an elite defensive point guard and will certainly pose a problem for the rookie.

One of my favorite non-Cavaliers in the league today is Josh Smith. I'm not really sure why, but it probably has something to do with the fact that he's a freakish athlete and his dunks look so pretty because he's a lefty. When focused and playing within the game plan, he's a nightmare for opposing teams. He's fast and strong, yet settles for jumpshots far too often. If he decides to attack the rim consistently, he will do ungodly things to Antawn Jamison in the paint. Smith is probably a bit faster, but he might be a decent comparison for Tristan Thompson's ceiling. If Tigger develops into a player like J-Smoove, then Chris Grant deserves big props for that draft pick.

Now that I'm really thinking about it, the Cavs matchup horribly with the Hawks. Josh Smith will likely dominate Jamison and there is nobody on this roster that can come close to defending Joe Johnson. Johnson may be one of the most overpaid players in the league, but that doesn't take away from the fact that he is a prolific scorer that can beat you in any number of ways. The only player that can really come close to guarding Johnson is probably Alonzo Gee, but even that isn't a good matchup. If Anthony Parker or Omri Casspi tries to slow down JJ, we're going to be in for another brutal night.

Did you know that Tracy McGrady is on the Hawks? That's pretty cool. Just thought I'd share that with you.

Key Matchup:

Kyrie Irving vs. Jeff Teague

I already said this, but Teague is a really good defensive guard. It's apparent that the Cavs offense already lives and dies with Irving, so it will be important for him to get going and get others involved if Cleveland wants to stay in this game. The Bulls threw multiple defenders at Irving last night, it will be interesting to see what approach the Hawks decide to take to corral the future rookie of the year.

Fear The Sword's Fearless Prediction:

Remember when I was warning everyone that this team would come crashing back to earth once the schedule caught up with them? Well that's what is happening. The Hawks should dispose of the Cavaliers fairly easily and based on what we saw last time the Cavs played on the second night of a back to back, it likely won't be pretty. I'm gonna say that the Hawks dominate the Cavs and win by a score of 104-89. Welp.