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NBA Playoffs: Cavaliers vs. Hawks Game 3 preview

After two dominant performances in the first two games of the series, can the Cavs go up 3-0 as the series heads to Atlanta?

Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
Everything that could have gone right for the Cleveland Cavaliers in the first two games of the series, has gone right for them. LeBron James has played like the LeBron James we've seen in the playoffs over the course of his career; Kyrie Irving has been in a groove on the offensive end; J.R. Smith can't miss from three; and Tristan Thompson has wrecked havoc on the Hawks' frontcourt.

All of that has led to 2-0 series lead for the Cavs, with the series now heading to Atlanta for Games 3 and 4.

Who: Cleveland Cavaliers at Atlanta Hawks

When: Friday, May 6th at 7 p.m.

Where: Philips Arena


Enemy blog: Peachtree Hoops

Music: Lil Wayne - Fireman

Things to watch:

  • There's hot, there's "NBA Jam" hot, and then there's "Cavs in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals" hot. Everybody and anybody was hitting from behind the arc in last night's win en route to an NBA record 25 three-pointers. While the number of three's hit for the Cavs was outlandish (they broke the playoff record for three-pointers with minutes left in the THIRD QUARTER), this isn't like the Brooklyn Nets went bonkers for one game. The three-ball has been the M.O. for the Cavs this playoffs, as they've hit five more three's per game in the playoffs than the second team. If the Hawks can't at least stop the bleeding (or the whining, for that matter), this series will be over in the next two games.
  • Outside of the three-pointers, the difference in this series so far has been the starting lineups. Whereas the starting five for the Cavs has been outstanding (sans Kevin Love's shooting), the Hawks has been the complete opposite. Atlanta had one of the best starting fives in the league this year, but they have been borderline awful this series. Atlanta has zero chance of winning a game, let alone the series, if its starting five doesn't play any better.
  • For as good as the Cavs have been as a whole, Love has been the one outlier for the Cavs through the first two games of this series. Although he has rebounded well (24 rebounds) and has held his own on the defensive end, his shooting has been nonexistent. He's 7-of-29 and hasn't been able to get a rhythm on the offensive end. Of course, it hasn't really mattered. But considering Love can really go up, is this a good sign for the Cavs going forward?
  • The Hawks weren't shy in letting people know how they felt about the Cavs pouring it on from behind the arc. Paul Millsap wasn't mad, but thought the Cavs were being unprofessional. Al Horford wasn't mad, but said the Hawks wouldn't have done the same thing if they were in the same position as the Cavs. Kent Bazemore wasn't made, but said that "karma" was going to come back and bite the Cavs. With no one on the Hawks mad about what happened in Game 3, what will their response to the Cavs be in Game 2 when the game is Atlanta?
  • Speaking of Bazemore, he thinks there's an outside shot that the Hawks can hit 26 three-pointers in a game. I also think there's an outside shot I'll be starting for the Cavs in Game 3.

Fear the Sword's fearless prediction:

The Cavs have dominated a lot of teams of the last two years, none more-so than the Hawks. Cleveland has won nine straight against Atlanta, and I expect that number to reach double digits after Game 3, with the Cavs winning 99-97 thanks to a monster game from LeBron.