This Eastern Conference semi-final matchup moves to Atlanta with the Hawks trailing 2-0 in the series. In game one of the series Cleveland held a lead throughout most of the second half but were unable to pull away from a persistent Hawks team that kept the game close throughout. In game 2 The Cleveland put on an historic shooting performance by going 25-45 from the three point line in a convincing 123-98 win that was nowhere near as close as the score would indicate. Atlanta will need to focus on making the adjustments that they can make and be prepared to defend their home court on Friday night.
It is rare to see a blowout of such proportion this late in the playoffs but Cleveland is starting to show that they can create a mismatch on every offensive possession and force teams to either double team or live with the consequences. If they choose to defend one on one then there will be mismatches that the Cav’s will expose and if they double team they will quickly move the ball and find an open shooter which Game 2 showed can be deadly. Lebron James led the Cavaliers with 27 points and 5 assists in only 28 minutes played which was tied with J.R Smith for a team high in minutes played. Smith had 23 points including 7-13 from the three-point line. Kyrie Irving had 19 points and 6 assists while making 4 of his 5 three point attempts. Kevin Love had 11 points and 13 rebounds with 3-4 from downtown. Cleveland has shown significant improvement in their offensive chemistry over the last month of the season and they continue to be a tough matchup. When they shoot the ball as well as they did the other night they are an impossible matchup.
Atlanta has had plenty of regular season success over the last few seasons and will need to find some of that success here in the post season if they want any chance of making this a series. While there may be a few things to learn from the loss the coaching staff may be better off throwing this game film in the garbage and moving forward. No starter played more than 27 minutes as the game was out of hand from early on in the fourth quarter. Paul Milsap had 16 points and 11 rebounds. Jeff Teague had 14 points and 6 assists and Al Horford had 10 points as the only Atlanta starters to reach double figures.
Game 3 is obviously critical for Atlanta if hey want to breathe new life into the series. Don’t be surprised if the Hawks elect to spend a lot of time with Teague and Schroeder playing together in the same backcourt in an effort to get their two best guards in the game at the same time. Cleveland will be looking to get off to a quick start and put an end to any hope the Hawks may still have left.
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