Scouting Report: Cleveland Cavaliers
It’s been a weird NBA season to say the least, but perhaps no team has been more perplexing than the Cleveland Cavaliers. Tonight’s Hawks opponent is a league-worst 2-12 on the road but 8-5 at home. They sit seven games under .500 despite a roster than many thought would compete for a playoff spot. Atlanta won the first meeting between the two, but that was at Philips Arena. Tonight, the Hawks (4-9 on the road) will try to solve their road woes against a team that plays very well in their own building.
The Hawks were able to shut out leading scorer Kyrie Irving in the first meeting, holding him to 0/9 shooting. That won’t happen again, but if Jeff Teague can keep him out of the paint, Atlanta’s chances of winning dramatically improve. Irving creates shots for others at a high rate when he’s penetrating, but he’s only shooting 41 percent from the field. Baiting him into perimeter jumpshots seems like the logical game plan.
Dion Waiters got into a groove last time, going for 30 on 13/20 shooting. Waiters can be a streaky player, but he’s dangerous when his shots are falling. He’s a shoot first, pass second guy (only 2.5 assists per game), so if he’s on the floor, you have to find him and stay locked on him, because he’s looking to score.
In the middle, Andrew Bynum had a big night and is always a threat in the paint and on the glass. Bynum’s 20 points and 13 rebounds came primarily because the Hawks simply don’t have a guy who can match up with him. Defensively Al Horford will need help, and Bynum will likely get his points, but the key will be on the offensive end. Horford can stretch any defense with his ability to hit mid-range jumpers, and Bynum doesn’t have the skill set to go out and guard him. I expect Teague and Horford to live with the two-man pick-and-pop game.
The Hawks are coming off an emotional loss in Miami, but they’ve had two days to regroup. All four games to close 2013 are against teams with losing records, so hopefully tonight is the start of a little run to finish the year.
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