ATLANTA — The Cleveland Cavaliers face off against the Atlanta Hawks and the Coach of the Year winner Mike Budenholzer on Wednesday, in what will be a very exciting series.
Three Pointer War
Atlanta came into the playoffs soaring high with the momentum of their 60 wins, as their offense is consistently sparked by three-point sharpshooter Kyle Korver.
Known for their high-octane offense, Atlanta’s defense needs to improve rapidly to survive against the free-flowing and potent Cavs. The Hawks struggled mightily against the eighth-seed Brooklyn Nets and had a very tough time against the fifth-seeded Washington Wizards.
The Hawks are led by DeMarre Carroll (17.1 points), Paul Millsap (15.7 points), Al Horford (15.6 points) and Jeff Teague (15.3 points). Still a threat from beyond the arc, Korver averages 11.3 points per game in the playoffs.
Korver and the Hawks must be ready to play defense against the top dynamic duo in the NBA in LeBron James (26.5 points) and Kyrie Irving (19.8 points). With James, Irving, J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert, and Matthew Dellavedova and James Jones ability to consistently nail three-point shots, Atlanta has their work cut out for them.
As a team, the Cavs can scorch the net, as they have averaged 10 three pointers a game. It’s also not a shock to see the Cavs hit 10 of every 30 three-point shots attempted.
Irving leads the Cavs with a three-pointer field goal percentage of 45.7%. Dellavedova has a three-point field goal percentage of 39.3% and Smith is third on the team with 35.1%
Intimidating in the paint
Center Timofey Mozgov can provide a strong presence in the paint both offensively and defensively. Although Mozgov won’t consistently score 15-plus points, he will block two to three shots per game. In fact, the Cavs lead all teams in the playoffs in blocked shots per game averaging 7.6.
The main concern for the Cavaliers is their health, as James and Irving battled injuries in the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Chicago Bulls. Despite Cleveland eliminating Chicago with a 94-73 win in game 6, the Cavaliers are a bit banged-up. Per reports, Irving will be ready to go for Game 1.
Bold Prediction- Cavs cruise to NBA Finals
Despite series wins over Washington and Brooklyn, Atlanta didn’t have the look of a true No.1 seed. No disrespect to the 60-win Hawks, but when an eighth seed wins two games, that is a red flag, especially in the Eastern Conference. Throughout the regular season, and so far in the post-season, the Hawks bore the reputation for being a jump-shooting team. If—and when–their shots don’t fall consistently, they struggle. Combine that with the lack of an inside post game, and they will need be physical to survive against the Cavs.
Which, unfortunately for them, they will not be able to.
The Cavs spread the ball around effectively, nail three-pointers on a near-regular basis and rack up assists. The main concern for Atlanta is defending the rim and three-pointer barrage that the Cavs will bring.
While the Hawks will have a chance to win each game, Cleveland’s offense will be too hot to handle. Look for Cleveland to advance to the NBA Finals after winning this series 4-1.