The Cleveland Cavaliers kick off the preseason against the Atlanta Hawks in Cincinnati, Ohio. The last time these teams saw each other the Cavs advanced to the NBA Finals. Both teams were missing key pieces. While the stakes have changed, both teams are missing parts of their starting lineups due to injury for the Cavs and free agency for the Hawks.
Who? Cleveland Cavaliers vs Atlanta Hawks
When? 7 pm ET
Where? Cintas Center, Cincinnati Ohio
Where on my eyeballs? NBA TV, shady places online
Enemy Blog: Peachtree Hoops
Some might call this a must-win game. Disassociate yourself from those people if you are around them for whatever reason. Obviously preseason games are more about the players getting back into shape and going through some of the stuff they are hoping to implement in the coming year. While I would caution anybody from reading into these games too much, here are some of the things I'll be looking for in Wednesday's game:
- How Sasha Kaun moves off ball. The Cavs obviously don't run a ton of post-up looks for their centers with the amount of scoring options they have throughout their roster. One of the things that has resulted in offensive success for Tristan Thompson and Timofey Mozgov in the past has been how they find passing lanes off ball and are able to strike quickly. It'll be interesting to see how Kaun gets his looks within the flow of the offense.
- Joe Harris hype seems to be building. These are not words I expected to type at any point of any year, but here we are. We know he can shoot, but in order for him to earn minutes in the rotation he'll need to be able to defend and stay moving into open spots on the perimeter. This will be our first chance to see how much growth he's had over the summer.
- Can Anderson Varejao move? This one doesn't really need much explaining. He was horrid on defense last season and fairly slow. Coming off an injury that usually saps the life out of players, mobility is probably going to be hampered more. With no end to the Tristan Thompson nightmare in sight, either Varejao or Kaun is going to need to be able to provide meaningful minutes for the Cavs. Timofey Mozgov has never played more than 25 minutes per game in his career and is reportedly out of shape coming off of knee surgery, so there's likely around 23 backup minutes available for Varejao and Kaun.
- How much off-ball movement is there? The Cavs offense was fairly reliant on isolation attempts last season. While they have some of the best isolation players in the league, there's been a fair bit of talk surrounding adding variety to their offensive attack. So it'll be interesting to see what type of sets are run during the game.
Fear the Sword's Fearless Prediction
Not too sure how to predict a preseason game, but I'll say the Cavs win 92-85.