|Timmy Shimmy (Ken Blaze- USA Today Sports).|
Coming off a huge emotional win against the Boston Celtics, Coach Mike Budenholzer decided to give the starters a night off against Eastern conference rival and defending NBA Champs, the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Hawks went into Cleveland and pulled out a head scratching victory without their starting lineup. A fairly reasonable response from Lebron James and the defending champs would be to circle the calendar for the next game against the Hawks for payback. It just so happened Cleveland would get that opportunity two days later; this time meeting in Atlanta.
The Hawks were down by as many as 26 points and Lebron James and company were making amends to the debacle Friday night in Cleveland. The Cavs engine was rolling like we’re used to witnessing against the Hawks and the game became the common mismatch between the two franchises. Going into the fourth quarter, Cleveland led 93-67 and the Cavs “Big Three” (Kevin Love, Kyrie Irving, Lebron James) combined for 70 points. The game appeared to be over as the star players had such a major impact in the game. Cleveland was sending a message to Atlanta, reminding the Hawks who they were; However, how the Hawks responded to Cleveland was a message that nobody expected. With a lineup that didn’t feature Dwight Howard and Dennis Schroder, the Hawks managed flipped the switch in the fourth quarter and erase a 26-point deficit; capped by a Paul Millsap buzzer beater forcing the game into overtime.
|Dwight will be a huge factor in the playoffs (NBA.com)|
In the overtime period, Kyrie and LeBron scored the Cavs’ first five points to jump out to a 116-111 lead with 2:31 remaining. Coming off a timeout, Malcolm Delaney would proceed to cut the deficit with a mid-range jumper to three. The following controversial possession would lead to Lebron James picking up his 6th foul and fouling out. The Hawks took full advantage of the situation and pulled within a point. After Paul Millsap and Kyle Korver exchanged rapid three pointers the Cavs remained on top 119-118 with 1:01 left. On the ensuing Hawks possession with 42.1 seconds left, Mike Muscala shot the biggest three-pointer in his career to regain the lead at 121-120. After a steal and layup by Kent Bazemore, and pair of free throws by Tim Hardaway Jr., the Hawks were able to seal the victory 126-125 , despite Kyrie Irving’s late 3-pointer at the buzzer, Atlanta outlasted the defending champs in back to back games.