Atlanta Hawks at Cleveland Cavaliers Preview
Wednesday nights matchup between the Hawks and Cavaliers isn’t exactly a marquee matchup. Both teams are currently at the bottom of the eastern conference with Atlanta sitting at 14th (15-40) and the Cavaliers at (13-40). Both teams surprisingly made significant additions at the deadline with Atlanta adding Clint Capela and the Cavaliers making a deal for Andre Drummond. Both teams are looking for a win going into the All-Star break despite this year being more about player development and the lottery rather than wins and losses. Although both teams are looking for a win this game may end up having more effect on the draft lottery more than anything else. Cleveland leads the season series 1-0 up to this point.
Time: 6 PM CST
Arena: Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, OH
Channel: Fox Sports Ohio, Fox Sports South
Hawks: DeAndre Bembry (Questionable), Clint Capela (Out), Skal Labissiere
Cavaliers: Dylan Windler (Out), Ante Zizic (Out)
Atlanta Hawks Starting Lineup
The Hawks were able to add another well-established young talent to their developing core in Clint Capela. Atlanta didn’t have to give up too much to acquire Capela in the 4-team blockbuster but will have to wait till after the All-Star break for the injured center to make his Hawks debut.
Despite the abysmal record, the Hawks have actually been producing some better results as of late relative to their performance early in the year. Over the last 15 games, Atlanta has played near .500 basketball going 7-8 over that stretch. Trae Young’s All-Star 1st half and the return of John Collins in late December (after 25 consecutive missed games). Atlanta has done a good job of preventing losses to pile up over the last month or so.
Atlanta is coming off a tough 135-126 loss to the Orlando Magic. This was a contest that saw the Hawks blow a 3-point lead going into the 4th quarter. The 4th quarter was a tough one for Atlanta which saw them give up an astonishing 42 points in the final 12 minutes.
Trae Young and John Collins led the Hawks with 29 and 22 points respectively. Despite a rough shooting night Young still provided his team with good production by notching 9 assists and making 12 of 13 free throws. They also got a big boost from their second unit who outscored 49-42 and all 5 players off the bench having at worst a +7 plus/minus. Atlanta’s fast pace offense led by Trae Young will try to push the pace against a Cleveland team that is in the bottom third of the NBA in terms of pace factor.
Cleveland Cavaliers Starting Lineup
There aren’t too many positive things to say about this Cavaliers team right now. They are currently on a 6-game losing streak which comes off the heels of a 7-game losing streak prior to their last win against the Pistons. They were able to go out and get Andre Drummond for a very cheap price, but his debut was not one to remember for Cleveland. Despite a solid game from Drummond the Cavaliers were handed their worst home loss in franchise history on Sunday with their 41-point loss to the Los Angeles Clippers.
It is hard to pull positives 133-92 loss but there were a couple that stand out. Drummond showed Cleveland what they can expect from him with a 19-point, 14 rebound double-double. Drummond’s arrival gives the Cavs a deep frontcourt which could lead to Tristan Thompson hitting the buyout market with Drummond taking a lot of his minutes. 1st round pick Kevin Porter showed some promise in garbage time giving Cleveland 17 points off the bench.
Clearly Cleveland did not expect to be competitive this year and that is evident. Even though they have a lighter matchup against an equally woeful Hawks team they seeing an Atlanta team that is playing the best they have all year (of course relative to their extremely poor performance early in the year). Cleveland should look to take advantage of the offensive glass against an Atlanta team that has struggled to win the rebound battle all year long. Drummond gives Cleveland another dominant rebounder on an already good rebounding team.
Key Player Matchup
Trae Young vs Collin Sexton
This matchup between 2018 1st round picks should be an entertaining one. Both guards are their respective squads leading scorer and dominant ball handler. Sexton has shown his defensive prowess at times but Trae Young is a defensive assignment that very few have figured out.
There aren’t too many players to trust from this matchup. Trae Young and Andre Drummond are near guarantees for good performance but each holds a price tag over $10,000. John Collins is my favorite play in this game and he’s sitting at $7,800 on Fanduel.
Bet on Matchup
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