Recap: Hawks 108, Cavs 89

December 6th, 2013 by Tom Pestak

The Hawks dribble-drive penetration generated easy perimeter jumpers all night long.

The Cavs waited until the 2nd quarter to play and spotted the Hawks 17 points.  Does anyone know if Kyrie Irving made his layups in warmups?  Because he missed every shot he attempted in the game, including 3 free throws.  Mike Brown yanked him with 7 minutes to go in the 3rd and he never returned, logging just 20 minutes.  Coincidentally, the Cavs went on a 12-0 run after Kyrie was replaced.

1st Quarter: The Cavs started off making a concerted effort to get Bynum the ball in post.  The Hawks game plan was to front the post and double team him.  The Cavs used the diversion created by Bynum’s presence to generate some perimeter attacks.  Unfortunately the guards started ice cold.  Gee, Irving, and Miles began the game 0-5 0-7 0-10 oh of 14 zero out of everything!!11 0-16.  Kyrie even missed a technical free throw.  On the defensive end, the Cavs looked lazy and disinterested.  Jeff Teague pump-faked Kyrie into the air, drove into the lane, and Kyrie just stood where he landed, conceding the score.

The Hawks used a drive and kick attack coupled with some back door cuts to get pretty much any shot they wanted.  None of their jumpers were contested and they drained 5 threes in the first quarter.  Anytime they missed Paul Millsap was around to clean up.  I’ve long contended that Millsap is one of the most underrated players in the NBA.  I desperately wish the Cavs would have gone after him in the offseason, especially after Atlanta nabbed him for 2 year and less than 10 million dollars a year.  HIGHWAY ROBBERY.  In the first quarter alone, he:  scored on a reverse layup after driving past TT, dropped in a few floaters, drained a mid-range J, and swished a half-court heave to end the half after Jarrett Jack took a mindless long 2 with too much time left on the game clock.  After one quarter, the Hawks led the Cavs 37-20.

2nd Quarter: More violence to start the second quarter, as the Hawks offense chugged along like a freight train (hope you are enjoying retirement, Joe Tait).  On the two or three possessions where the Cavs actually played solid half-court D the Hawks just drained contested mid-range jumpers anyway.  Halfway through the second quarter, the Hawks had made 22 of 36 shots, and 13 of them were assisted.  The Cavs, on the other hand were 12 of 33, with an anemic 4 assists.  Practically all of the Cavs baskets were Dion Waiters isolation pull up jumpers/drives and Andrew Bynum points in the paint.  To their credit, both players have shown gradual improvement already this season.  Waiters taking 17 footers off his own dribble drives used to be a recipe for disaster, but what can you say when a guy is just draining everything?  Is it still a bad shot?  After an uncharacteristically long benching, Kyrie Irving re-entered the game and continued to play terribly.   He was bailed out by the refs on an air-balled floater and then clanked both free throws, bringing him to OH of SIX from the field and OH of THREE from the line.  OH my GOD.

Dion Waiters single handedly kept the Cavs from scoring under 30 points in the first half.  Think about this, Dion dropped 17 points in 17 minutes on 10 shots in the first half and the Cavs still trailed 63-43 at halftime.  After a brief interlude of shot missing the Hawks went back to making uncontested layups, slightly contested putbacks, and more uncontested layups.  Fun stuff.

This is real: Alonzo Gee, Kyrie Irving, C.J. Miles, Earl Clark, Anthony Bennett, Tyler Zeller, and Matthew Dellavedova: 0 – 20, 0 points. TT, Dion, Bynum, and Jack: 17 – 28, 43 points.  The Hawks announcers described the half as the Varsity playing the JV.

Things reported at halftime: Tyler Zeller required stitches after getting cut around his eye in the second quarter.  Kyle Korver set an NBA record for 90 consecutive games with a 3 pointer.

3rd Quarter: The Cavs started out the third quarter with a  slightly better commitment to defense.  The problem was they just refused to take good shots and clanked everything they threw up.  (As I threw up watching)  After a Jeff Teague 3 where no one even thought about closing out on him, the Cavs deficit became 29.  Mike Brown called time, removed Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson, and the Cavs went on an 12-0 to cut the lead to 17 before Sweet Lou Williams (another sinister job by D Ferry) drained a 3 to stop the bleeding.  Jarrett Jack, I’m convinced, is just going to shoot every time he gets the ball at the top of the key.  But not until he has crossed the 3 point line.  Another bone I have to pick with Jack: choosing to not close out on someone spotted up at the 3 point line is presumably due to fear of the dribble drive.  Too often I see Jack choose to not close out on a three point shooter, instead, sagging, and then the shooter puts the ball on the floor and explodes by him anyway.  Lou Williams did that in the 3rd.  The Cavs closed out the quarter with some respectability on defense, holding the Hawks to just 5 points in the last 7 Kyrie-less minutes.

4th Quarter: The Cavs started the 4th with a Matty SUPER’Dova reverse layup, bringing him to +16 in 15 minutes for the game.  Waiters, after a 6 minute period of brick-laying, got back into the bucket-column – canning a 3, and bringing the Cavs within 15.  Then, SUPER’Dova hit a 3, and on the next possession, ran a 2-man pick and pop with Varejao.  After Varejao’s miss, Matty SD did something I’ve never seen in an NBA game.  Instead of tipping it back he made a fist and punched it into the backcourt, which is apparently a violation.  I honestly had no idea that rule existed.  Is it illegal in volleyball too?  If so, I’ve been cheating all these years!  The Cavs and Hawks traded buckets as Kyrie Irving continued to sit.  Not a bad plan, as SUPER’Dova compiled a +18 in 17 minutes to Kyrie’s -19 in 20 minutes.  Make it +20 in 18 minutes as Delly made a 20 foot floater.  (what a weird dude)  Then, Al Horford iced the game with back to back alley-oops as he just sprinted down the court and beat all the Cavs.  Mike Brown called a rage quit timeout, and that’s where I stopped watching the game and started thinking about the Hawks offseason.

Thoughts on The Hawks/Cavs Offseasons: Earl Clark’s APM from 2011-2013 is -10.92.  DeMarre Carroll’s is +2.8.  Carroll was 3rd on the Jazz last season in Roland Rating, even higher than Millsap.  Speaking of Millsap, he’s been a plus minus wonder for some time now, posting an APM of +8.02 from 2011-2013.  I consider Varejao a deal at less than $10 mil a year, and Millsap earns less.  He’s also younger and never gets hurt.  That these guys are excellent value is no secret, at least not to a bunch of bloggers.  Nate and I both pined for Carroll on separate occasions.,  I assumed Millsap would command 13+ million a season so I didn’t lobby too hard for him, but I was still interested in the Cavs giving a look:

Currently, Millsap is sporting a PER of 19.8, identical to his 2013, and 2011 seasons.  Carroll, meanwhile, is at 13.1, so it’s not like he’s lighting it up.  That is, until you compare him to Earl Clark, who makes almost twice as much money and is sitting at a PER of 9.6 and playing less than 20 minutes a night.  (Carroll is playing 30).  Tonight was a nice microcosm of what they bring to their respective teams: Clark, 2 points in 6 minutes with zero rebounds, zero assists, zero steals, zero blocks, and zero rebounds.   And Carroll, 27 minutes, 10 points, 8 boards, 2 assists, 1 steal.  Here is a look at my pre-season profile of the Hawks.


Final Thoughts:

This was a disappointing night for the Cavaliers.  They beat themselves in the 1st quarter and were never able to move the needle much after that.  They showed a total lack of aggression on defense throughout the first half and allowed Atlanta to get way too many easy baskets.  Atlanta is a good team and played well, so this wasn’t the same kind of garbage fire like the Washington game a few weeks ago.  Hopefully this is just a 2 steps forward, 1 step back kinda thing.


-Waiters dropped 30 in 35 minutes on 20 shots.  He looks pretty comfortable with a mid-range game.  I still think he needs to be attacking the rim at every opportunity but it’s nice that he can stay balanced and drain the pull-ups when the paint is clogged.  He played with a fire tonight.

-Bynum continues to impress me.  Had he converted at his usual rate from the free throw line he would have had another monster box score.  As it is, 20 points on 14 shots in 27 minutes with 13 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 blocks is pretty fierce.

-I’d love to see Matthew Dellavedova play well in a Cavs win.  The Cavs lost by almost 20 and he was +13 in 26 minutes.  He does a nice job initiating offense, he has a good feel for two man ball movement.  He had 4 assists to only 1 turnover tonight.


-Kyrie Irving played the worst game of his career.

-Tristan Thompson has more success shooting floaters than he does put backs after offensive rebounds.  I am at once astounded that Tristan has been able to completely re-invent his shot yet he still pump-fake-gathers under the hoop and leaps with the ball completely unprotected.  It’s like tee-ball for defenders.  He needs to realize he’s not Shaq or even Bynum and he needs some up and under moves or needs to learn how to either draw a foul underneath or kick the ball back out.

-Bennett played 9 minutes of zeros.

-Jarrett Jack didn’t play too badly, but someone is going to have a “heyjarrettjack…” website up before the season is over.

-Waiters and Bynum shot 22 of 34 and the rest of the Cavs 16 of 60.  I doubled checked this for accuracy.