The Cleveland Cavaliers return to action on Friday night in another national tv game on ESPN. It will double as Kyle Korver’s homecoming to the place where he was an All-Star and solidified his status as one of the greatest shooters of all time. He was a huge part of a 60 win team that reached the Eastern Conference Finals, perhaps the greatest Hawks team of all time. He’s respected by everyone in the Atlanta locker room, and I’d guess it will be emotional for him to go see team employees and old friends.
The Cavs sent Mike Dunleavy back to the Hawks in that deal, and he is out with a nagging ankle injury. Korver has been a fantastic addition for the Cavs. You just can’t value shooting too much in today’s NBA.
The Hawks are a good team, and blew out the Boston Celtics earlier in the week. The Cavs are still down two starters, and will need better performances than what they got on Wednesday from Korver, Deron Williams, and even Kyrie Irving, who played with a bit of tunnel vision.
Who? Cleveland Cavaliers (41-18) vs. Atlanta Hawks (34-26)
When? 7: 00 PM ET
Where? Philips Arena — Atlanta, Georgia
Where on my eyeballs? ESPN
Music to get me ready:
The Cavs need wins to get the East’s top seed, but they also need wins to keep LeBron James in the MVP race. More and more, he has the numbers to enter the conversation. With the Cavs dealing with substantial injuries, James is getting deserved credit for keeping the team afloat. However, that requires the team to excel. With Kevin Durant out, and Steph Curry having a down year, it would seem to be a race between James, James Harden, Russell Westbrook, and Kawhi Leonard.
A case could be made for all of them, but LeBron has truly been great over the last couple months. If the Cavs go on a big run and keep winning (Wednesday’s hiccup aside), it’ll keep James’ name at the forefront of the discussion. The Cavs are trying to add new faces and names to the rotation and starting lineup on the fly, so it might not be easy. Korver, Deron Williams, Derrick Williams, and Andrew Bogut are new to the team, and Richard Jefferson and Channing Frye are fulfilling roles they weren’t expecting.
Put shortly, especially with a heavy schedule of games in March that tilts towards road games, the Cavs are due for some losses. If they don’t, though, James has a case for the MVP.