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Keys to the Game: Cavaliers vs. Hawks

Keys to the Game presented by: Key Bank


Bird Watching

On Saturday night, the Cavaliers gear up the second half of their back-to-back, welcoming Trae Young and the Hawks to town before hitting the road for their first extended trip of the season.

Cleveland fell to 0-2 with last night’s loss to the Hornets in the home opener – with Charlotte blowing open what had been a tight contest through three quarters. Turnovers – 19 miscues that led to 34 points – and long-range shooting in the second half, going just 2-of-14 from deep. The Cavs committed six of those turnovers through the first half of the fourth quarter, enabling a 19-2 Hornets run that put the game out of reach.

Collin Sexton led everyone with 33 points, going 13-for-21 from the floor, including 2-of-7 from deep and 5-of-5 from the stripe. Ricky Rubio doubled-up in his second straight contest, handing out 10 assists to go with 15 points, taking the place of Darius Garland, out with a left ankle sprain on Friday night. Jarrett Allen went 5-of-6 from the floor and is now 16-for-17 shooting to start the season.

The Hawks are coming off a very impressive win their home opener, stifling Luka Doncic and the Mavericks on Thursday night.

Atlanta held Dallas to just 33 percent shooting the MVP candidate to just 18 points on 6-of-17 shooting. Cam Reddish, the first rounder acquired in the Luka-Trae Young deal, led the Hawks with 20 points off the bench. Young led both teams with 14 assists and Clint Capela grabbed a game-high 13 boards.

Following Saturday’s showdown at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, the Wine & Gold hit the road for a five-game roadie against some of the Western Conference’s heaviest heavyweights – tipping off with a Monday night matchup in Denver.


History

Overall, the Hawks lead the all-time series, 124-108, but the Wine and Gold took two of the first three meetings against Atlanta last year and have won five of the last six at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse against Atlanta. And in 12 postseason meetings, the Cavaliers have never lost a game.

Cleveland’s top scorer in the series is LeBron James, who went off for 48 points against Atlanta on his 25th birthday back in 2009 – with the Cavs sealing the win on an Anderson Varejao desperation three-pointer and a pair of late free throws from Jamario Moon.

The Hawks all-time mark goes back to 1972, when Pete Maravich went off for 50 points in a 120-117 win. John Johnson led Cleveland with 29 points in the loss. The NBA’s No. 1 overall pick that year, Austin Carr, added 17.


Connections

Hawks assistant coach Chris Jent – along with Monday’s opponent’s head coach, Mike Malone – was with Mike Brown’s staff in Cleveland from 2006-11 and, of course, played for Ohio State in the early-90s (and was an assistant with the Buckeyes from 2011-13 after leaving Cleveland).

Hawks forward Onyeka Okongwu – who was Chino Hills High starting center alongside the starting guard in last night’s contest, LaMelo Ball – and Cavs rookie Evan Mobley both played their college hoops under Andy Enfield at USC.

Hawks reserve Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot played a pair of preseason games for the Cavaliers in 2019 before being released.

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