Injuries continue to be the ugly passenger along for the ride throughout the NBA Playoffs. The Atlanta Hawks will need to deal with a bruised knee for DeMarre Carroll which has him listed day to day. Kyrie Irving re-injured his knee Wednesday night and the Cleveland Cavaliers need to also contend with apparent injuries to LeBron James and Iman Shumpert. All that being said, there is still an Eastern Conference Finals that is still up in the air for either team to get their hands on.
A game two win for the Cavaliers would put the Hawks in a very compromising situation. They would need to win two games in Cleveland to come away with a series win. The Cavaliers have only lost twice in Cleveland since January 7th, so that task might be a little too tall for the Hawks if they were to fall into an 0-2 hole.
Who? Cleveland Cavaliers at Atlanta Hawks
When? 8:30 pm EST
Where? Phillips Arena, Atlanta Georgia
Where on my eyeballs? TNT
Enemy blog: Peachtree Hoops
Teams have had success against the Hawks in the postseason by making a conscious effort to take Kyle Korver out of the game. The Cavaliers deployed that game plan on Wednesday, holding him to only five shots and 2-4 from the floor. Iman Shumpert and J.R. Smith did a great job sticking with him and staying in his airspace. Korver is not as effective when he has to put the ball on the floor and was forced into three offensive fouls in those exact situations. They need to let a sleeping dog lie and continue to lock him down. If they start giving him open looks, they run the risk of him finding his stroke and punishing them throughout the series.
The other all star that the Cavaliers, specifically Tristan Thompson, did a good job in containing, was Paul Millsap. It appeared as though Thompson had got under the skin of Millsap with his relentless effort on the boards and quick feet on defense. While Millsap is a better offensively than Thompson is defensively at this stage of his career, he still has an ideal combination of physical tools to make the two time all star work. That, combined with the apparent frustration with Thompson's effort on the glass might just be enough to limit his effectiveness in this series.
The health of Kyrie Irving and to a lesser extent LeBron James will also be a huge story moving forward. Irving was able to knock down jump shots in game one, but there was no explosiveness to his game and he was unable to attack the rim or stay in front of Jeff Teague. While injuries have caused him to be a liability in some ways, the Cavs need offense wherever they can get it. The Cavs are optimistic that he'll be able to continue to play through his injuries, but will likely continue to rest him if a game gets out of hand one way or the other.
With Irving banged up, the Cavaliers will need to come up with some answer for Jeff Teague. Matthew Dellavedova did a slightly better job than Irving, but doesn't possess the quickness to actually stay in front of Teague. The Cavs might be better served putting the length of Iman Shumpert onto him and moving the point guard onto Korver, who doesn't possess the same blow-by ability.
Fear the Sword's Fearless Prediction:
I don't think it's likely Carroll plays in game two, even if he is able to make it back into the lineup later in the series. Given how precious rest is for the Cavaliers, I think that LeBron James will look to seize an opportunity to try and shorten the series. Cavs win 99-92.