Who will prove the most dominant of an obviously weaker league.
The Cleveland Cavaliers are about to take on the Atlanta Hawks for the Eastern conference championship. Such a blurb may be the most glorious part of this series. Compared to the impressive play that led Golden State and Houston to their respective conference finals, neither east coast team has “turned any heads.” Online sportsbooks in the U.S have indicated that both teams will have to step up their performance to have a chance of beating the Western Conference champs.
The Cavaliers are victims of injury. Kyrie Irving, a key player, suffered from an ankle sprain that has made it difficult for the Cleveland team to adjust to. Kevin Love, an equally potent contributor wasn’t present in the playoffs which caused disarray in their line-up. Meanwhile the Hawks might be victims of “burn out” as their compromised bench has affected their post season play.
Cleveland and their need for a repeat of the Lebron James show.
The Cleveland Cavaliers were able to defeat the Boston Celtics in straight wins. The Chicago Bulls however tested Cleveland by putting them down in the last series by one game. The Cavaliers cleared the test winning three straight. Regardless of anything said for the quality of Cleveland’s post season play, they happen to have the best player in the NBA. Lebron James is a threat that Atlanta doesn’t have an answer for.
The four-time MVP and two time champion has a post season average of 26.5 points, 10.2 rebounds and 7.9 assists per game. James well-known in his post-season play surmounting a Durant, Westbrook and Harden of the Oklahoma Thunder or Garnett, Pierce and Allen of the Boston Celtics. Well known to U.S gambling news is James’ potential to change the game when the atmosphere is a bit too even.
Atlanta’s Carrol Millsap may be the only realistic option for the Hawk defense since Kent Bazemore is absent. Irving is still a key factor and will be greatly needed. Even under ankle injury, Irving should still able to stand out of the paint and open himself up for easy two-pointer. Cleveland’s Mozgov is still proven zealous enough to make a difference on the inside on defense.
Thompson will still have to hold his weight in the series hopefully counterbalancing Irving. Smith, Dellavedova and Shumpert are capable of providing the tools needed for the Cavalier offence. Shumpert in particular will have to bring up his game since the normal Altanta offense may provide him with the longest looks at the basket.
Atlanta brings their balanced offense to the series.
The Atlantic Hawks have a pretty spread-out offense with four players having scoring averages between 17 and 15.3 points per game during the playoffs. Their equilateral play was an impressive display led Atlanta to 60 victories which led the eastern conference. Unfortunately still lack any one deterrent for James. Cleveland’s record of 108.2 points per 100 possessions in the play-offs, will be difficult for Atlanta to stop.
That is important considering that the Hawks ranked seventh in efficiency in the NBA and second in postseason defensive efficiency. The Hawks can definitely move around. Let’s not forget that Cleveland would rather not run if given the choice which might benefit the more spry Atlanta team. It should prove difficult for the Cavaliers to guard four guys with equal scoring potential without leaving one open for the shot.
Cleveland is ranked at 92.9 possessions per 48 minutes in the postseason which could be trouble against a more spry offence like Atlanta. Movement by the hawks should help make clear the spread within the confines of U.S gambling laws. Jeff Teague should be able handle Irving and his bad ankle throughout the series. Jeff Teague will be dancing all over the court, forcing Irving to give the “Tiny Tim from Hell” impersonation.
Kyle Korver is going to be mobile throughout the series and it looks as though Cleveland’s J.R Smith could be the only one remotely able to cover him. The Atlanta offence has the potential to “rain” three-pointers against a Cavalier defense that’s “still under construction.” With drives into the heart of the Cavalier defense, technically sound pacing and effective passing, Atlanta has a better than average shot at winning the series.