The Cavaliers are playing their best basketball of the season, having won nine straight games. They blew out both the 76ers and the Heat, and head into Phillips arena to square off with the woeful Hawks, who already handed them one of their seven losses on the season.
Who: Cleveland Cavaliers (14-7) at Atlanta Hawks (4-16)
When: 7:30 p.m. ET
Where: Phillips Arena, Atlanta, GA
Enemy Blog: Peachtree Hoops
TV: Fox Sports Ohio
Online: Fox Sports GO, NBA League Pass
Cavs injuries: Isaiah Thomas (OUT - hip), Tristan Thompson (OUT - calf), Derrick Rose (OUT, away from team/ankle injury), Iman Shumpert (OUT - left knee)
Hawks injuries: Dewayne Dedmon (OUT - tibia), Mike Muscala (TBD - ankle), Luke Babbitt (TBD - back), Isaiah Taylor (TBD - eye)
Three keys to the game:
- What wins out? The Cavaliers pride in not wanting to lose multiple games to the Atlanta Hawks, or the schedule? This is a rare stretch of three games in four nights for the Cavaliers, with the extended schedule really helping to cut down on such games. This Cavs team is old, and despite good rest the last two games, they’re probably not feeling their freshest. Still, they have the advantage here.
- Can the Cavaliers keep the Hawks off the boards? Hawks rookie John Collins is collecting 15 percent of his team’s own misses when he’s on the floor this season. Collins has a ton of bounce, and his second jumps are not something Crowder will likely be able to match.
- As always, the Cavaliers will need to find a way to corral the opposing team’s starting point guard. The starters have been blitzing pick and rolls and forcing the ball out of lead ball-handlers hands, and it’s worked to varying degrees. Dennis Schroder doesn’t have a lot of help on this team, but if they allow him to carve them up in isolation, it’ll be a long night for a tired Cavs defense.
Taurean Prince draws a tough task in guarding LeBron James, but he fits the profile. He’s enormous, springy, and smart. His ability to frustrate James will go a long way, though one wonders if this is the kind of game LeBron will find himself at the free throw line a lot after complaining about his dwindling free throw rate after he was tossed from the Miami game.
Fear the Sword’s Fearless Prediction
The Cavaliers are rolling right now, and they’re taking a lot of pride in their play. I expect that to continue for at least one more game. Cavs 119, Hawks 102.
Editor’s Note: This story was updated to reflect Dewayne Dedmon missing three weeks with a stress fracture in his leg.