Who: Cleveland Cavaliers (0-2) vs. Atlanta Hawks (0-2)
When: 6:00 pm
Where: Quicken Loan Arena - Cleveland Ohio
Where on my eyeballs: Fox Sports Ohio, NBA League Pass
Enemy blog: Peachtree Hoops
Cavaliers injuries: Larry Nance Jr (ankle - questionable)
Hawks injuries: Justin Anderson (tibia fracture - out), John Collins (ankle - out), Dewayne Dedmon (avulsion fracture - out), Omari Spellman (ankle - out), Daniel Hamilton (torn rotator cuff - out)
Coming off two tough road games against teams from last year’s playoffs, the Cavaliers have a chance to take care of business at home.
After facing what will likely be one of the best defenses in the league in the Toronto Raptors, the Cavs were able to find their groove against the Minnesota Timberwolves. While the team was unable to complete the comeback, there were some positives in the way the team competed.
Three keys to the game:
- Dictating the pace and style of the game. It’s no secret that the Cavs don’t have the same top end talent that they’ve had over the last few years. As a result of that, the team’s ability to get out and run, stay away from isolation basketball and generate quality looks has directly correlated with how competent they look on the floor. The Hawks don’t have the same defensive weapons as the Raptors, or a one-man wrecking crew like Jimmy Butler. It’s important for the growth of this unit that they execute against teams with less talent than them and practice good habits. The top priority this season is the growth of their core and developing an identity as a team. Games like this provide the Cavs with an ideal opportunity to practice what they preach.
- Set the tone on defense. The Cavs defense through two games has... well... let’s just say it has left a lot to be desired. Both Minnesota and Toronto were in the top four in offensive efficiency last season so giving up points against them can be somewhat tolerated. However the Cavs ability to get out and run would be aided considerably by getting more stops. If the team wants to start gaining some positive momentum on that side of the floor, a nice place to start would be against the struggling Hawks.
- Win the battle of the point guards. Do me a quick favor here and scroll up to the list of injuries for the Hawks. When your roster is missing this many limbs it can be pretty tough to get a balanced scoring effort, especially when you’re thin on talent to begin with. Taureen Prince, Trae Young, and Vince Carter are the Hawks top three scorers through two games. Yes, the same Vince Carter that’s turning 42 in a couple months.
Limiting Trae Young would likely neuter any chance the Hawks have of keeping up with the Cavs offensively. Young is a brilliant young player who’s passing is almost as impressive as his seemingly limitless range. It’s be on George Hill and Collin Sexton to contain Young and win the battle at that position. Sexton and Young had an incredible head-to-head battle in college last season. It would be nice to see if Tyronn Lue could give Sexton more opportunity in this game to try and go after one of his peers.
Fear the Sword’s Fearless Prediction
Third time is the charm! The Cavaliers will open this season perfect at home as Kevin Love breaks out of his slump from the floor. Collin Sexton doesn’t outperform Young, but the complete team effort simply is too much for the Hawks. Cavs win 110-96.