GameDay Preview: Cavs at Hawks

Samardo Samuels, Zaza Pachulia, Alonzo Gee
Scott Cunningham/NBAE/GettyImages

Game Summary

The Cleveland Cavaliers (3-12) square off against the Atlanta Hawks (9-4) tonight at Philips Arena; tip off 7:30 p.m. ET.

The Wine and Gold will look to snap a four-game skid while the Hawks hope to build upon their six-game winning streak.

The Cavs come into tonight’s contest as the NBA’s leader in second chance points allowed (10.7), while ranking 3rd on the offensive end in second chance points (16.1). The Cavs are also forcing 16.5 turnovers per game, which ranks 5th in the NBA.

The Hawks rank fourth in the NBA in points allowed (92.0), second in opponent FG% (.425) and 10th in opponent 3FG% (.343), and have not allowed an opposing team to shoot .500 from the field in a game this year. Atlanta is also tops in the league forcing 17.9 turnovers per game and sixth in steals (8.9).

Probable Starters/Injury Report* presented by Cleveland Clinic

Cleveland ClinicCavaliers: PG - Jeremy Pargo, SG - Dion Waiters, SF - Alonzo Gee
PF - Tristan Thompson, C - Anderson Varejao

Hawks: PG - Jeff Teague, SG - Deshawn Stevenson, SF - Kyle Korver
PF - Josh Smith, C - Al Horford

Injuries: (Cavs) - Kyrie Irving (Hairline/Non-Displaced Fracture in Left Index Finger, Out)
(Hawks) - None

*Subject to change

Head-to-Head Matchup

The Cavaliers trail the all-time series against the Hawks, 109-93 posting a 59-44 mark in games played at home with the Hawks tallying a 65-34 record in games played in their home arena.

This will be the first of four contests between the Cavs and Hawks this season. In three games against the Hawks last season, Alonzo Gee averaged 14.3 points and 8.3 rebounds in 32.7 minutes, including a 20-point, 9-rebound performance on March 18, 2012. Tristan Thompson also played well against the Hawks, averaging 12.0 points on .583 shooting and 5.3 rebounds in 33.0 minutes per game.

Key to the Game/Key Matchup

Key to the Game

Ball Movement
As mentioned, the Hawks have yet to allow a team to shoot over 50 percent from the field and in order for the Cavaliers to become the first team to eclipse that mark, they must have good ball movement.

Atlanta does a great job of moving the ball on offense. They are fifth in the NBA in assists per game at 23.3 and have had only one game where they failed to reach at least 20. In their last four contests, the Hawks are averaging 28.3 assists (113).

Key Matchup

Anderson Varejao vs. Al Horford
You would be hard-pressed to find two big men in the Eastern Conference playing better than Varejao and Horford.

Against the Suns on Nov. 27, the Brazilian big man posted his sixth straight double-double (the longest streak of double-doubles in his career) after tallying a game-high 20 points (14 in the third quarter) on 10-15 (.667) shooting, a game-high 18 rebounds (six offensive), three assists, one steal and one block in 38 minutes. The last Cavs player with 15-plus rebounds in six consecutive games was Jim Chones (March/April 1978).

Varejao has grabbed at least 15 rebounds in 10 of his 14 games played this season, including each of the last six games, and leads all qualifying NBA players in total rebounds per game (14.9), offensive rebounds per game (5.8) and defensive rebounds per game (9.1). He also owns three of the league’s four games of 10-or-more offensive rebounds this year. The last NBA player with 15-plus rebounds in six consecutive games within a single season was Dwight Howard in March 2011 (seven straight games).

The "Wild Thing" also became the first NBA player to grab 15 or more rebounds, with at least five boards of the offensive glass, in six straight games since 2003 (Ben Wallace, Detroit). Varejao and Wallace hold the longest such streak in 16 seasons (1997-98 to date).

Horford was named NBA Eastern Conference Player of the Week for games played from Nov. 19th through the 25th. The fifth-year man out of Florida led the Hawks to a perfect 4-0 week, averaging 16.5 points, 9.8 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 1.0 blocks in 35.5 minutes (.554 FG%). He recorded a career-high 10 assists on 11/21 in an overtime win against Washington, coming up one rebound shy of his first career triple-double (15 points/nine boards). On the season, Horford is averaging 16.0 points and 9.3 rebounds.

Where to Catch the Action

TV: FSOhio HD, NBA League Pass
Radio: WTAM 1100, XM 222, NBA League Pass Audio