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NBA Playoffs: Cavaliers vs. Hawks Game 2 Preview

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Coming off a gritty win in Game 1, the Cavs are primed to face the Hawks in Game 2.

Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

For the Cleveland Cavaliers, Monday's Game 1 win against the Atlanta Hawks was a mix of good and bad. On one hand, Cleveland led for most of the game and ultimately won by 11 behind big fourth quarter buckets from LeBron James and Kyrie Irving. On the other hand, they blew a huge lead and probably shouldn't have had to hold on in a first place.

Still, a win is a win and the Cavs now have a chance go up 2-0 against the Hawks.

Who: Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Atlanta Hawks

When: Wednesday, May 4 at 8 p.m.

Where: Quicken Loans Arena - Cleveland, Oho

TV: TNT

Enemy Blog: Peachtree Hoops

Music: Kid Cudi - Mojo So Dope

Keys to the game

  • In Game 1, a big reason why the Cavs did so well was that Atlanta's Paul Millsap and Al Horford were largely kept in check. Millsap was just 6-19 from the field while largely being defended by Tristan Thompson, while Al Horford was just 4-13 while largely being defended by Kevin Love. This was a huge win for the Cavs and replicating it in Game 2 (and then over the course of the rest of the series) bodes well for Cleveland.
  • Love, by the way, should be good to go despite getting a little bit banged up in Game 1. Considering he limped off the court, that's a good sign. And despite not shooting well - he was just 4-17 from the field on Monday - Love was an effective player Monday on the boards and defending Horford. That's a good sign moving forward into Game 2.
  • The big surprise for Atlanta was how well Dennis Schroder played. He's a bit of an enigma and is inconsistent, but he was very good until late in Game 1. In 29 minutes - seven more than starter Jeff Teague - he scored 27 points and dished out six assists while making 5-10 threes. Some of what he did - getting to the rim, for one - are things we replicate again in Game 2. The good news for Cleveland, however, is that there's little to no chance he shoots 5-10 form deep again. For the season, he shot 32.2 percent from deep on three attempts per game.
  • Atlanta other key player was Kent Bazemore. He struggled defending LeBron as expected, but was 6-14 from the field for 16 points and made LeBron work on defense. If LeBron's not engaged in Game 2, Bazemore might have another solid night.
  • One other key matchup to watch is J.R. Smith vs. Kyle Korver. Offensively, Smith made four threes and did what he needed to do. But on defense, he constantly worked and chased Korver around. Ultimately, Korver only took one three for his only field goal attempt of the game. If Smith can put forth a similar engaged defensive effort in Game 2, it'll go along way to getting the Cavs to a 2-0 lead.

Fear the Sword's Fearless Prediction

In some ways, the Cavs took one of Atlanta's best shots in Game 1. Schroder won't be that good again - probably - and Millsap and Horford simply struggle against Cleveland's bigs. Atlanta can make some meaningful tweaks - trying to play Millsap, Horford and Teague all at once, playing Schroder and Teague together, etc. - but they probably won't be enough. Look for the Cavs to take a 2-0 lead with 103-94 win.