The Cleveland Cavaliers are coming off an emotional overtime victory over the Atlanta Hawks, one that has put the franchise on the verge of it's second ever berth in the NBA Finals. While the victory was well deserved, a series clinching win won't likely come easily.
To state the obvious, the Hawks were without their best player in Al Horford for the second half of the game. LeBron James has seemingly re-aggravated one of his several ailments, although it's always tough to determine what effect his injuries will have on his game. The Hawks will likely have sufficient motivation, not only from the reality of being on the verge of elimination, but from the aggravation they feel over perceived wrongs committed by Matthew Dellavedova.
While all this is true, the Cavs still possess an ace up their sleeve in Kyrie Irving. Of course whether or not Irving will receive medical clearance to play remains to be seen. Ideally the Cavs will be able to rest Irving until the finals, but it's very possible his services will be required. Unless of course LeBron and his band of merry role players can deliver another gritty win.
Who? Atlanta Hawks at Cleveland Cavaliers
When? 8:30 pm EST
Where? Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, Ohio.
Where on my eyeballs? TNT
Enemy Blog: Peachtree Hoops
The Atlanta Hawks have played a beautiful brand of basketball throughout the season. The Cavs have managed to turn that brand of basketball into an ugly, gritty series, which is of course necessary when you no longer are in possession of two Ferraris in Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving.
One of the key forces in muddying up the series has been Tristan Thompson. He did a fantastic job in games one and two in containing Paul Millsap, but in game three he had twenty two points on eleven shots. A large part of his damage was done from the free throw line. Thompson was uncharacteristically in foul trouble for large portions of the game. Keeping Millsap off of the free throw line and limiting his efficiency will be vital to the Cavs success in this game, especially if they're without the services of Kyrie Irving.
Then there's LeBron. The reason that the Cavs can have confidence that they will come away with a win in an ugly battle that keeps the game close. He has shouldered an incredible load with Irving out and will need to continue to do so in order for the Cavs to remain competitive. It's probably unlikely that he will start off 0-10 again in his career, but his Herculean effort after that start is exactly what the Cavs need to advance to the finals.
Fear the Sword's Fearless Prediction:
I'm not sure how they're going to do it. But I think the Cavs will clinch the Eastern Conference championship Tuesday night.