GameDay Preview: Cavs vs. Hawks
The Cleveland Cavaliers (7-23) are back at Quicken Loans Arena to take on the Atlanta Hawks (17-9) for the second of four regular season matchups. Tipoff is at 7:30 p.m. ET.
Both teams come into tonight's contest looking for their third straight win following victories on Wednesday night - the Wine and Gold knocked off the Washington Wizards, 87-84, while the Hawks defeated the Detroit Pistons, 126-119, in double-overtime.
Kyrie Irving had a strong all-around performance in the win over Washington as he finished with a game-high 26 points (20 in the first half), six rebounds, a game-high eight assists and two steals in 37 minutes. The sophomore guard has scored 20 or more points in 13 of his 19 games played this season and is averaging a team-high 22.9 points in 35.5 minutes per game.
Josh Smith recorded 31 points to go along with 10 rebounds against the Pistons and leads the Hawks on the season in scoring at 17.0 points per game.
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The Cavaliers trail the all-time series against the Hawks, 109-94, despite posting a 59-44 mark in games played at home. Atlanta holds a 65-35 record in games played in their home arena. Cleveland is 11-5 over the last 16 home games against Atlanta.
In their last meeting on Nov. 30th at Philips Arena, Alonzo Gee made the game-winning putback layup with 0.3 seconds to go to give the Cavs a 113-111 road win and snap Atlanta’s six-game winning streak. (see picture above)
Key to the Game/Key Matchup
Key to the Game
In their win on Wednesday, the Cavaliers took good care of the ball, totaling just 10 miscues on the night. Conversely, they forced the Wizards to turn over the ball 20 times and converted their miscues into 19 points. It marked the fifth time this season the Cavs forced 20 or more turnovers. Cleveland is now forcing 15.7 turnovers per game, which is the 6th-most in the NBA this year.
Atlanta also does a good job pressuring offenses as they are third in the league in forcing 16.7 turnovers per game, and third in steals (9.1). On the other end, the Hawks rank fifth in the NBA in assists per game at 22.9 and have had only three contests where they failed to dish out at least 20 dimes. Atlanta has recorded assists on 61.8% (596-965) of their made baskets on the season, fourth in the league.
A key to tonight's game will be turnovers, providing defensive pressure while taking care of the basketball on the offensive end.
Cavs bigs vs. Smith/Horford
Atlanta is 7-0 when Al Horford and Josh Smith record double-doubles in the same game. Needless to say, the Cavs bigs will have to contain the Hawks tandem in the paint. Fortunately for the Wine and Gold, the Cavs' young post players have been playing solid, consistent basketball of late.
In the win over Washington, Tristan Thompson posted his fourth straight double-double (9th on the season) with a season-high 15 points, a game-high 12 rebounds and one block in 37 minutes. Over his last four contests, Thompson is averaging 13.0 points on .500 shooting, 12.8 rebounds and 1.5 blocks in 36.8 minutes per game.
Tyler Zeller has started in each of the last four games and has averaged 12.3 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.0 block in 35.3 minutes over that stretch.
Where to Catch the Action