Final Dime: Hawks 99, Cavaliers 83
Jamario Moon led the Cavaliers with 15 points in Wednesday's loss.
1. The Wine and Gold have a date with the Chicago Bulls this weekend at The Q. They way they played on Wednesday night, they were already there.
The Cavaliers rested most of their playoff rotation in the season finale – as did Atlanta – and both teams head into the postseason with healthy squads, which was the evening’s overreaching goal.
The Cavaliers continued to rest LeBron James and didn’t unveil Shaquille O’Neal, although he was cleared to play medically. Mo Williams was in street clothes and Antawn Jamison and Anderson Varejao didn’t see action in the second half.
On the actual hardwood, Atlanta’s Jeff Teague led everyone with 24 points as the Hawks led by as many as 26 – running away with the 99-83 win on Wednesday night in Philips Arena.
“Atlanta is a tough team with a deep bench and we learned that this evening,” said Coach Mike Brown. “Games like this get you prepared for the playoffs and help guys get in the right frame of mind. We’re focusing on playing a physical and tough-minded Chicago team. We’re ready for the challenge.”
The Cavaliers fate has been sealed for almost a week-and-a-half and even after going 2-4 in the month of April, still hold the league’s top spot. What was unclear heading into 2009-10’s final night was who they’d face when the Second Season tips off.
By the time Wednesday’s affair in Atlanta wrapped up, it turned out to be the anticipated matchup with the Bulls, who dropped the Bobcats on Tobacco Road to clinch the 8th seed in the East.
Jamario Moon led the Cavaliers with 15 points, going 7-for-13 from the floor with seven boards and a pair of steals. J.J. Hickson, playing in front of several family members and friends, paced the starters with 14 points and six boards.
“This is a game we still wanted to win even with our main guys not playing tonight,” said Hickson. “It meant a lot because it was opportunity to give reserves some quality minutes and get in tune for the playoffs.”
The Cavaliers won’t be “sending this one to Springfield” as Joe Tait would say – shooting just seven percent (1-14) from beyond the arc and 56 percent (20-36) from the stripe.
But again, the goal was to get out the regular season with a healthy, well-rested team. The Cavaliers achieved exactly that, and they’ll send that squad to battle beginning this weekend at The Q.
2. Even with the loss, the Cavaliers give the Hawks more problems than any other franchise in the LeBron James Era – going 20-6 in that span.
3. Wednesday’s loss snaps a five game win streak over Atlanta – nine games including last year’s four-game sweep in the Conference Semis.
4. The 26-point deficit the Cavaliers faced in the third quarter was the largest of the season.
5. Even after sitting out the final four games of the season, LeBron James joined Michael Jordan and Oscar Robertson as the only players to post a season of 2250 points, 650 assists and 550 rebounds. Jordan did so in 1988-89. The Big did so in five straight seasons.
6. The Cavaliers finished the season at 1-5 without LeBron in the lineup.
7. The Cavaliers haven’t dropped four straight since they ran up against a six-game skein in November 2007.
8. Jamario Moon made a strong push for postseason minutes over his last four outings – averaging 14.0 points on .558 shooting, including an even 50 percent (7-14) from beyond the arc.
9. Cleveland won 60 games in back-to-back seasons to become only the ninth different franchise in NBA history to consecutive 60 win seasons.
10. The Cavaliers and Bulls wrapped up their season series at 2-2 – each splitting a pair at home. The Bulls haven’t visited The Q since a December 4th loss in which words were exchanged between Joakim Noah and LeBron James. Expect more of the same in a few days.