Tonight, the Cleveland Cavaliers play host to Trae Young and the Atlanta Hawks. Just one day ago, the Cavaliers won against the Miami Heat 59-42. The Hawks, meanwhile, last played on Saturday, November 19 where they won against the Toronto Raptors 124-122 in overtime.
Where: Cleveland, OH - Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse
When: 7 p.m. EST
TV: Bally Sports Ohio, Bally Sports+, NBA League Pass
Opposing blog: Peachtree Hoops
Cavaliers’ expected starting lineup: Darius Garland / Donovan Mitchell / Lamar Stevens / Evan Mobley / Jarrett Allen
Cleveland’s injury report: Kevin Love (DOUBTFUL - finger), Caris LeVert (QUESTIONABLE - ankle), Dean Wade (OUT - left knee), Ricky Rubio (OUT - ACL), Dylan Windler (OUT - right ankle)
Hawks expected starting lineup: Trae Young / Dejounte Murray / De’Andre Hunter / John Collins / Clint Capela
Atlanta’s injury report: Bogdan Bogadanovic (OUT - knee)
What to watch for
No rest for the weary
It’s been several times so far and I’m sure you probably already know. But, the Cavaliers are playing the second game in a back-to-back after trouncing the Heat on Sunday night. Kevin Love was a game-time decision last night after suffering a hairline fracture of his right thumb the other night against the Charlotte Hornets. Considering Love’s status, along with players like Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland and Jarrett Allen being banged up, and the fact that this is game two of a back-to-back - maybe J.B. Bickerstaff is mindful and rests his guys? An NBA season is a marathon, not a sprint. So, maybe, the Cavaliers phone this one in against the Hawks and take it easy on their key players.
Two new-look teams trying to prove their worth
Unfortunately for the point above, Bickerstaff doesn’t typically operate like that. If Bickerstaff sticks to his guns, it’ll be an interesting test for the Cavaliers against a Hawks team where you can draw a lot of parallels. Both teams have some players with similar skill sets across the board but, both Atlanta and Cleveland also made power move trades this summer. The Hawks got Dejounte Murray while Cleveland got Donovan Mitchell. Both squads are looking to prove that they’re ready to contend right away. In turn, that could lead to a very tilt between both the Hawks and the Cavaliers at the end of the day.
Next man up?
In the first half of Cleveland’s win over Miami, the Cavaliers lost sixth man Caris LeVert to a left ankle injury. If LeVert is unable to go, along with Love, it’s fair to question where Cleveland will get their scoring punch from off the bench. Sure, Isaac Okoro had a great night and Cedi Osman was more impactful than Donovan Mitchell against the Heat. But, both Okoro and Osman are far too inconsistent to rely on them on a nightly basis. With that said, we might see Cleveland lean heavily on their starting unit in order to eke out a win.