Cavaliers Preview – Game #76: Hawks at Cavs

Cavaliers vs Hawks
For anyone that remembers my last Cavs game preview, let me reiterate: “first and foremost, my apologies to any and all of you hoping for an Andrew novella in preview to this game. A lot of times when you go to a pinch hitter late in a game, you have to talk yourself into thinking a part-time .260 hitter can come through in the clutch. Buckle up.”

It’s simple: if the Cavs win tonight, they guarantee at least a tie with Orlando for best record in the East, and lower their best-in-the-NBA magic number to one. That’s really the only focus of this game. Yes, it would be nice to see them shoot better from the free-throw line, and/or to see some improvement in areas such as guard play and not giving up easy buckets on defense. At the end of the day, though, the team is really just on cruise control and is coasting in their “war of attrition” move to clinch the overall #1 seed going into the playoffs.

Projected Starting Lineups

Atlanta Hawks:

-G Mike Bibby (9.1 ppg, 4.0 apg, 0.9 spg, 13.03 PER)
-G Joe Johnson (21.3 ppg, 4.9 apg, .367 3P%, 19.23 PER)
-F Marvin Williams (10.0 ppg, 5.2apg, 1.1 apg 12.84 PER)
-F Josh Smith (15.8 ppg, 8.8 rpg, 2.0 bpg, 21.52 PER)
-C Al Horford (14.2 ppg, 9.7 rpg, 1.1 bpg, 19.50 PER)

Key Reserves: Jason Collins, Jamal Crawford, Maurice Evans, Zaza Pachulia, Jeff Teague, Mario West

Injuries: no significant injuries

Cleveland Cavaliers:

-G Mo Williams (15.4 ppg, 5.2 apg, 1.1 spg, 15.45 PER)
-G Anthony Parker (7.1 ppg, 1.9 apg, .413 3P%, 9.50 PER)
-F LeBron James (29.7 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 8.5 apg, 31.58 PER)
-F Antawn Jamison (19.0 ppg, 8.7 rpg, 0.3 bpg, 17.49 PER)
-C JJ Hickson (8.3 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 0.5 bpg, 15.06 PER)

Key Reserves: Delonte West, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Daniel Gibson, Jamario Moon, Jawad Williams

Injuries: Anderson Varejao (game-time decision—hammie), Shaquille O’Neal (out—thumb), Sebastian Telfair (out—groin tear YEEOUCH)

Team Efficiency Stats

Cleveland Cavaliers:

-Off (102.1 ppg, 42.5 rpg, .487 FG%, 22.3 apg, 14.0 TOpg, Eff-109.1, Rank-2)
-Def (94.8 ppg, 38.5 rpg, .438 FG%, Eff-100.9, Rank-7)

Atlanta Hawks:

-Off (102.1 ppg, 41.6 rpg, .467 FG%, 21.8 apg, 11.9 TOpg, Eff-109.0, Rank-4)
-Def (97.4 ppg, 41.7 rpg, .462 FG%, Eff-104.1, Rank-15)

Previous Matchups

  1. Cleveland 95 at Atlanta 84 – 12/29/09 [recap]
  2. Atlanta 101 at Cleveland 106 – 12/30/09 [recap]

Future Matchups

4. Cleveland at Atlanta – 04/14/10

Game Notes

The Hawks are coming off of a pretty sound thumping of the Lakers on Wednesday night, and do have a little bit more to play for in that they’re still technically only 3.5 games behind Orlando for the division lead. And, as Windhorst points out, they want payback for the last game’s shot-clock rigmarole. Plus, the Cavs have generally owned the Hawks’ collective manhood for the better part of a year and a half. That playoff series was an emasculation for the ages. But I digress…

Much like my last preview, I’m going to cop out and crib from Windy:

• Anderson Varejao is a gametime decision. He didn’t take part in all of shootaround and the medical team hasn’t yet cleared him to play. They’ll watch him before the game in some workouts. Andy, for his part, has made it clear he wants to play and feels he’s ready to do so. The Hawks are injury free.• This has been a game circled on the Hawks calendar for awhile now and they are feeling good about themselves after blasting the Lakers at home on Wednesday. Atlanta hasn’t beaten the Cavs in well over a year and they always play up the disrespect angle. The Hawks also feel they were robbed in the last meeting where there was a shot clock malfunction that they protested with the league and they have been waiting for payback. Despite their record against them (Cavs have won eight straight including playoffs), the Hawks feel to a man they can beat the Cavs in a playoff series and they want to start to show that right here.• The Hawks are an athletic team that love to run the floor and have a host of guys who can score. In general, they’re a good offensive team. They are a challenge to defend in the pick-and-roll because they’ve got active bigs and a couple of great jump shooters. For this reason, the Cavs may play smaller with more Leon Powe than Zydrunas Ilgauskas depending on how things go. Varejao is a vitally important player in a game like this, which is why he wants to play.An area where the Hawks are weaker is interior defense and rebounding. Smith blocks shots and Zaza Pachulia is a big body but the Cavs have been able to get easy baskets by driving the ball and challenging the interior. They also regularly get outrebounded by their opponents. Atlanta has not been a great road team recently either, losing four of their last five away.

Let’s hope their road woes continue tonight.

Next Game For The Cavaliers

Sunday, April 4, 2010 1:00 PM EDT
Cleveland Cavaliers at Boston Celtics

  • hansolo1

    I thought it was at 8pm on ESPN?

  • whipjacka

    espn at 8

  • Swig

    DP did admit to being a .260 pinch hitter. We should be lucky there is no broken html or dead links.

    Sit Andy tonight if he’s not 99%. Shouldn’t even be a close decision.

  • boogeyman

    ESPN and FSNOhio. Hopefully Hubie Brown is doing the game on ESPN. Should be a hard fought tough match-up.

  • boogeyman

    Btw Kobe Bryant signed a 3 year extension with the Lakers. So that this fits I’ll just say go Cavaliers, beat the Hawks!

  • phil m

    The Philadelphia 76ers? Why did they appear in the game notes?

    This could be a big night for Leon Powe in particular.

  • Ryan

    Love the old school logos in the graphics..this site keeps getting better.. Go Cavs, and go indians…?

  • phil m

    It’s Green Wash week in the NBA, thus the green sweat bands.

    People often praise Delonte for controlling the ball and not feeding LeBron frequently, but Windy argues that Delonte is hurting the Cavs’ offense in this one for that very same reason.

  • phil m

    After 3 quarters: Mo Williams is having another aggressive game and has been scrappy on D throughout. This is a good sign. Antawn has had on off game and has not been able to make up for Andy’s absence. He got beat by Josh Smith a few times, but the Cavs brought in Z and started doubling Josh to silence his low-post threat.

  • Denny

    Thanks Ryan, I like them too – I’ll try to keep making those. I think it’s a pretty cool juxtaposition of design.

  • phil m

    And with this typical fourth-period-clampdown victory in the books and Orlando down by 8 with 6 minutes left against SA, home court advantage in the East is looming up before our eyes. As for the overall home court advantage, Utah can get us there by beating the limping Lakers later tonight.

  • boogeyman

    @phil m the homecourt advantage is nice but entirely to much is made of it. one loss and it’s neutralized.

  • phil m

    @Boogeyman: True, but against a team like Orlando, we need every advantage we can get. And, as fans, we also need fun stuff to root for! (Incidentally, the point was made–I forget by whom–that home court advantage in the East is more important than overall, since it’s tough to win three games in a row at home in the finals format.)

    By the way, where’s the enthusiasm for the Cavs at this site? Sheesh. We just manhandled a rising team from Atlanta for the 9th straight time. If only the Indians had had a smidgen of that success against the Braves!

  • Eli

    Its Friday night. We’re watching the game at bars!

  • phil m

    @Eli: thanks for that clarification! Where I am, game time was a sunny Saturday morning.

  • Stephenwolf

    Missed the game, but glad to hear we closed out homecourt throughout the east and mo stepped up on both sides of the ball. It’s amazing how we always manage to beat the hawks. Any news on the Jamison injury?

  • phil m

    Stephenwolf: Jamison went out with no more than a pinched nerve–a “stinger” in his shoulder area. He was prepared to reenter the game, but the Cavs are now in their hyper-conservative mode, as further evidenced by their tolerating days and days of Andy’s saying “I wanna play, I wanna play” rather than letting him see a few minutes of action.

    The Shaq-less team should be in full force for the game in Boston, and I know some people don’t put much stock in it, but that final magic hash mark for overall home court advantage is still scrawled on the Cavs’ chalkboard, and someone is going to make sure they take their dusty fat eraser along for the trip to Massachusetts.

  • boogeyman

    @phil m I agree about it being more for the fans as to whether it helps against Orlando or not I’m not sure. It didn’t seem to matter a year ago. Don’t get me wrong I’d much rather see the Cavaliers play at home but in reality just one loss does away with the home court advantage.

    Sunday in Boston should be interesting. The Celtics lost again last night so maybe the Cavaliers can deliver another dose of reality on Sunday.

  • phil m

    If the Cavs thump the C’s on Sunday, somebody, find me a link to the Kenny Smith post-game analysis!