First, check out Cory Hughey’s superior recap of last night’s game. Once you’ve done that come back and listen to John Krolik, Tom, EvilGenius, and I as we tried to stay sane after an epic Cavs overtime win against the Hawks. We couldn’t do it. We were all a little giddy and punchy as we recorded a late night pod during the middle of a holiday weekend. Who could blame us? It was a thrilling game that featured an ejection, a team full of villains trying to destroy Matthew Dellavedova (The Wombat), and the greatest player in the world (or not, according to some of our podders) giving a Kal-El-ian like performance that resulted in an all-time triple double and a Cavs win. The podcast includes highlights, lowlights, too much Delly analysis, haberdashery criticism, a probable finals preview, and so much more.
Recap: Cavs 114, Hawks 111 OT (or There was a land of Cavaliers and Cotton Fields called the Old South)May 25th, 2015 by Cory Hughey
The Atlanta Hawks franchise proved that the New South still has the same sensibilities as the Old South with their duo of race scandals during the preseason. Many, including myself, assumed that the distractions off the court would affect the performance of the team, and they proved all doubters wrong, posting a franchise record 60-22 season. An overlooked stat of the Hawks was that they had the lowest point differential in league history for a 60-win team. They fielded four all-stars, but no superstars in a sport dominated by them and come late Tuesday night, their 2014-15 season will probably be swept away like red clay dust from the back porch and they’ll be Gone with the Wind.
We can almost taste it. That is, everyone except for Tom (love ya, buddy).
In our email chains since game one, I will openly admit that pretty much everyone involved in C:TB has spent far, FAR more time talking about the Warriors than the Hawks. Actually, I’m not sure I can remember a single instance of any of the bloggers discussing the Hawks for any extended period of time.
But, and I don’t think I’m too far off-base here, I’m guessing that’s where most Cavs fans are right now.
Really, is that surprising? I think we can be forgiven if we’re not terrified by the name “Kent Bazemore” in the starting lineup. Nor are we intimidated by a hobbled Demarre Carroll. Long, long gone are the days of us worrying about Kyle Korver going off, and it would appear that the offensive rebounding tandum of Tristan and Mozzy are too much for what we can now understand to be an undersized Hawks front court.
Still, it seems naive to look too far ahead. For one thing, a year ago even being at this point seemed way outside the realm of reality – maybe it’s time to enjoy the trip we’re on. For another, the Hawks certainly aren’t dead yet. Just ask the Clippers.
Finally, there ain’t no way ANYONE is matching up with GS with a hobbled point guard. Fingers crossed that brace works, Kyrie!
I don’t want to be a Debbie downer – I still have complete faith of where this is going. JR is the man, TT and Timofey are WAY more than we thought they were, and Lebron is finally back to being Lebron; those things (especially the last) will always give the Cavs a chance. I’m just here to put it all into perspective – lets not get ahead of ourselves, take this one day at a time, and enjoy awesome basketball as long as we can.
And for God’s sake, lets pray Draymond Green can’t shut the King down in a seven game series!
In 1864, General William Tecumseh Sherman marched his union forces through Atlanta, destroying nearly everything in his path, and leaving the city not much more than a smoldering ruin. A little more than 150 years later, LeBron Raymone James led his rag-tag band of teammates on their own journey to do some damage in Atlanta, but this time it was merely the Hawks and their home court advantage that went up in flames.
With a long list of wounded, including two of his “big three” partners, LBJ found a way to marshall all of the remaining King’s men and exhort them into helping him thoroughly dismantle Atlanta’s once mighty basketball team. The latest casualty was Kyrie Irving, whose legs had finally betrayed him during the initial skirmish of Game 1. However, the Cavs “next man up” philosophy ensured that there would be no drop off in intensity or will. And they would show the Hawks no mercy, torching them on their own floor, in front of their disbelieving fans (many of whom fled for the exits to escape the conflagration).
What began as a fairly hotly contested game in the first half, turned in the third quarter when the Cavaliers cranked up their defense to smothering. Using a 24-9 run to push their lead out to 20, the Cavs blew away the Hawks, and blazed their way to a commanding 2-0 series lead.
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) May 22, 2015
"Medical staff made a decision it would be better to hold him out." -David Blatt on Kyrie Irving tonight. pic.twitter.com/9Uoei8oXK7
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) May 22, 2015
While the Cavs stole home court from the Hawks and jumped out to an early series lead after winning Game 1, 97-89, they head into Game 2
with a great deal of uncertainty regarding without Kyrie Irving due to an aching left knee. Irving missed the team’s morning shootaround, instead spending the time getting a further evaluation on his knee after treatment. The latest news had him getting another MRI on the knee, and he is listed as “questionable” now out for tonight’s game.
“This is obviously one of the most frustrating things I’ve ever dealt with,” Irving said after Game 1. “We do days and days and go out there and it’s nothing like simulating a game so for me, I just have to continue to do what I’ve been doing and do whatever is necessary to put myself out there. I’m all about winning. That’s the only thing that matters.”
I got to celebrate the Cavs’ glorious Game One victory in Mark Neal’s studio this afternoon. We talked all things Cavs, the Conference Finals, the trade for J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert, the draft, and even got into some discussions about the one-year-of-college requirement. Give it a listen, and tune in each Thursday between 5 and 6 EST. I’d love to have some of our regulars call in with a question, put a voice to a name.
GIF: JR Smith holsters the pistol pic.twitter.com/jfFMtKS9Pk
— The Cauldron (@TheCauldron) May 21, 2015
JR Smith submerged himself in icewater after the game, just so he wouldn’t set his apartment on fire when he got home. Smith was a human torch, scorching the nets for 28 points on 10-16 shooting, including eight three-pointers (a Cavs playoff record). LeBron added 31 points, Tristan and T-Mo chipped in double digit rebounding performances, and the Cavs’ perimeter defense held the Hawks to 4-23 shooting from behind the arc.
After an 18 point lead in the fourth, sparked by JR Swish, the Hawks cut it to 11. The Cavs reverted to their “ball control” offense with eight minutes left and drained the life out of the shot clock on every possession, and eventually wrung the seconds out of the game clock. The Hawks made it close, cutting the Cavs lead to four points with under a minute left, but a King James drive for an uncontested dunk stretched the diff to +6 with just 37 seconds left. Paul Millsap missed a three, and that closed the door for the Hawks.
It’s been a long week. If you’re like me, you didn’t know what to do with yourself while the Cavs weren’t playing. Fortunately, we hoops junkies get our fix tonight, as the Cavs take on the Hawks. Some great storylines heading into this one: Kyrie seems to be at the healthiest he’s been in a few weeks, according to Chris Fedor of the Northeast Ohio Media Group.
I feel good,” Kyrie Irving said. “This is a lot of days resting and getting treatment but also finally feeling good and actually being out there with my teammates preparing again. It’s a totally different mindset than being in the training room or being on the court watching film. Now it’s time to get started, roll the basketball out and go play.”
That’s good to hear, and it’s a key factor for this playoff series. When taking a look at the matchups, peak Kyrie is superior to Jeff Teague, but the Kyrie we saw for most of the Bulls series comes out on the negative side. I believe the week off is going to do wonders for Kyrie (He’s only 23. He still heals like a young guy.)
Four points I’m thinking about the Cleveland Cavaliers…
1.) It’s darned near impossible to overstate the importance of the three point shot in the playoffs. In the Cavs most recent six game series against the Chicago Bulls, there were several instances where a player getting hot from deep helped to swing the game. There was Mike Dunleavy’s first quarter outburst in Game 1, J.R. Smith’s three big triples in the fourth quarter of a crucial Game 4 that set up the game winning shot by LeBron James, while Iman Shumpert and Matthew Dellavedova took turns keeping Game 6 en fuego.
1. If you’re the Cavs, what worries you the most going into a series against the Atlanta Hawks?
Tom: I worry about the Cavs being able to match up with the front line of the Hawks. They got away with playing James Jones because Joakim Noah with so useless offensively. But that’s not going to work against Paul Millsap or Al Horford. they’ve had slow start with Timofey Mozgov and Tristan Thompson playing together. The key to the series may be LeBron James guarding Paul Millsap.
Cory: Kyle Korver shot a sizzling .492 3P% on 449 attempts during the regular season, but has struggled from downtown against the Wizards. Bradley Beal blanketed Korver through their series and it was effective as Korver shot just 12 for 42 from beyond the arc. He’s due to breakout of his shooting funk.
Ben: Dennis Schröder. That kid is insanely slippery. He walks around the court like he owns the place and it rubs some people the wrong way. There are also the Rondo comparisons that lead many to assume he is a headcase. And hey, his German status has confused people into thinking he dominated a chair in his youth. However, he is a very fine player who is only getting better. He is incredibly long on the perimeter. (I was just chatting with a German buddy of man who got yanked from his youth game after Dennis picked his pocket on four consecutive trips). He and Teague should be able to give Kyrie some trouble even if Uncle Drew feels fresh like Nephew Drew. Schröder is a much better shooter than Rondo every dreamed of being and has already mastered the change of pace drive going either way. He has a knack for getting his shoulder by the defender as if it were buttered. The Cavs have had some trouble against lightening quick PGs. It will probably be up to Shump to shut him down.
David: I’m worried about the Hawks offense starting to look like it did in the middle of the season. When the Hawks destroyed the Cavs by 29 points in December, it was because their guards would cut into the paint and then whip the the ball to the open shooter. If Kyrie is still running around like he has a stick taped to his leg, there would be even more pressure on Mozgov to mean mug away possible penetration. Delly might have to play 48 minutes then too. Relying on those two guys full-time scares me.
Robert: The Cavs need to be very cautious about starting games as slowly as they did against Chicago. I don’t think you can expect this Hawks team to take a quarter off from scoring like the Bulls often did to let the Cavs claw their way back into the game.