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Cavs make statement, dominate Hawks, 109-97

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Despite missing four players, the Cavs dominate the Hawks in the first rematch of last year's Eastern Conference Finals.

Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

The Cleveland Cavaliers left off right where they finished when they last took on the Atlanta Hawks -- blowing them out, at home, with a number of injuries to the Cavs' roster. The only thing that was missing was the confetti.

From the opening tip, the Cavs dominated the Hawks in their 109-97 win. The Cavs were up by 15 at the half and stretched that lead to 26 with a 13-4 run to start the second half.

Atlanta would make a few runs to cut the lead, but each of those Hawks' runs were met with a Cavs' run of their own to keep the game out of reach, with the Cavs cruising to a double-digit lead for the entire second half.

The Cavs were successful on both ends of the court tonight.  They were moving the ball at a frantic pace on the offensive end, finishing with 27 assists and multiple possessions with four-to-five passes that set up an open shot. On the defensive side, the Cavs limited the Hawks 37.2 percent shooting

Tristan Thompson, who obliterated the Hawks on the offensive glass in the Eastern Conference Finals last year, did so again tonight, grabbing a team-high 16 rebounds, with six of those rebounds coming on the offensive end. His contribution went beyond simply just creating extra possessions, he was creating for others as well to the tune of a career-high five assists.

The other player who haunted the Hawks last year? J.R. Smith, who also seemed to continue that effort against Atlanta that helped the Cavs sweep them just six months ago. Although he didn't shoot it nearly as well as he did last year, he still managed to hit four three-pointers and helped limit Kyle Korver's effectiveness on the other end.

With Thompson's effectiveness on the offensive end, it opened up the floor for Kevin Love to operate. Love scored 25 points and did so in a variety of ways; on the block, at the elbow and behind the line, all with a certain efficiency that has been lacking from his game all season, hitting 9-of-15 field goal attempts.

As for LeBron James, he started out slow shooting, but would end up with 19 points. Although the low point total would suggest a below-average game for him, it was how he affected other aspects of the game that made him impactful tonight. He was at the focal point of the Cavs' ball movement, finishing with eight assists.

After two lackadaisical games and being called out by both coach David Blatt and LeBron James, the Cavs have now responded with two impressive wins in back-to-back games. We will see you Monday night.