Preview: Hawks @ Cavs

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Bellenelli (Jememy Johnson).

The reeling Hawks take on the Eastern Conference champions.

The Hawks have had an disappointing start to the new season to say the least. After a surprising win on opening night in Dallas, the Hawks have dropped eight games in a row and now find themselves stuck in the middle of a grueling November schedule. The latest defeat was at home to James Harden and his Houston Rockets. Though the Hawks only lost the game 119-104, Atlanta was never truly in the game. In fact, the Hawks’ only lead of the entire night was when they scored the first basket of the game to make it 2-0. Dennis Schroder scored 16 and Kent Bazemore scored 18 for the Hawks in the loss.

The Cavaliers are coming off of a much-needed win in Washington fueled by a super human performance by LeBron James. James poured in 57 (!) points for the Cavaliers to go along with 11 rebounds and 7 assists. The narrow victory over the Wizards followed a string of four straight ugly losses for the Cavaliers that had fans and sports critics wondering aloud whether this may be the year that LeBron James no longer dominates the Eastern Conference. Needless to say, James at least temporarily halted those discussions with his historic performance against the Wizards.

Key Matchup

Derrick Rose vs Dennis Schroder

The Cavaliers will likely have the upper hand in four out of the five positions in this game. The one position where the Hawks look to have the advantage is at the point guard position. Though Derrick Rose has been a formidable replacement for the injured Isaiah Thomas, he is still nowhere near the player he was before injuries took their toll on his career. Schroder, on the other hand, is far and away the Hawks’ best scorer and he will most likely need to score at least 25-30 points to keep the Hawks in this game. If Schroder lets Rose come even close to outplaying him, the Hawks’ already slim chances of winning this game will decrease even more.

Injury Report

Hawks

Dennis Schroder – Probable

Marco Belinelli – Probable

Malcolm Delaney – Doubtful

Ersan Ilyasova – Out

Mike Muscala – Out

Miles Plumlee – Out

Deandre’ Bembry – Out

Cavaliers

Isaiah Thomas – Out

Tristan Thompson – Out

3 Keys to the Game

1. Containing the Cavaliers’ supporting cast

As solid as Taurean Prince is on defense, there is no way that he can stop LeBron James from scoring 40-50 points if James wants to. What the Hawks cannot do, however, is double team LeBron and leave someone open. James has proven throughout his career his natural ability to find the open man, and the Cavaliers’ lineup is filled with shooters like Channing Frye, Kevin Love, and Kyle Korver (whose shooting Hawks fans should be well aware of). It’s better for the Hawks if James scores 40 and everyone else is contained than if he scores 30 and three other players score 20.

2. Rebounding

With Tristan Thompson sidelined because of a calf injury, the Hawks will need to take advantage of the Cavaliers’ lack of frontcourt depth. The Hawks will be without backup center Mike Muscala, so it will be important for players like Dewayne Dedmon and John Collins to crash the glass and if nothing else, limit Cleveland’s second chance opportunities.

3. Transition Defense

Guarding LeBron James in transition is a virtually impossible task. James will either overpower you and get a layup or find one of Cleveland’s sharpshooters having a picnic on the three point line. The only way the Hawks can try to limit Cleveland’s transition opportunities is by preventing fast breaks. This may mean sacrificing offensive rebounding in order to slow down Cleveland’s transition offense. However, it is a price well worth paying if it means preventing LeBron James from operating in the open floor.

Projected Starters

Hawks

Guard – Dennis Schroder

Guard – Kent Bazemore

Forward – Taurean Prince

Forward – John Collins

Center – Dewayne Dedmon

Cavaliers

Guard – Derrick Rose

Guard – JR Smith

Forward – LeBron James

Forward – Jae Crowder

Center – Kevin Love

Game Info

Tip Off: 3:00 PM ET

TV: Fox Sports Southeast

Radio: 92.9 The Game

Next 3 Games

Nov. 6 vs Celtics

Nov. 10 @ Pistons

Nov. 11 @ Wizards

 

By Jackson Stone

@tdjs_network

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Jackson Stone
ATL REPRESENT

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