The Atlanta Hawks look to make their first home stand against the scorching Cleveland Cavaliers in this second round matchup of the 2016 NBA Playoffs. After having lost both road games in Cleveland, the Hawks will look to regain an advantage with the help of their home crowd. The Cavaliers, however, will look to take a three game lead over the Hawks in an attempt sweep another series in this post season.
The Cavaliers currently hold a two games to zero lead over the Hawks following two double-digit home wins. Cleveland won the first matchup 104-93 and the second 123-98.
Cleveland relied on a balanced scoring attack from their big three to lead them to a big win in game one of the series. The Cavaliers jumped out to an early lead, hitting six 3-pointers in the first quarter of the game. The lead was held through much of the game until Atlanta’s backup guard, Dennis Schroder, forced a massive comeback off the bench. Schroder’s aggressive scoring effort allowed the Hawks push back late in the third and early in the fourth quarter, where Atlanta eventually regained a short lead. However, Cleveland’s continued strength from beyond the arch and the late game push from LeBron James allowed the Cavaliers to regain the lead, and eventually the game. James led the Cavaliers with 25 points and Kyrie Irving added 21; Schroder led the Hawks with 27 in the loss.
The Hawks were unable to mount another impressive comeback in game two, where they trailed for a majority of the game and found little traction behind the struggled shooting of the majority of their team. Additionally, the Cavaliers, who have been hot from 3-point range in the playoffs, hit an all-time NBA record 25 threes in their dominant victory over the scrambling Hawks. J.R. Smith got hot from behind the arch early, scoring 14 first quarter points. Cleveland’s lead continued to grow from 20 to 30, and eventually to 40 points, assisted by their continued hot shooting from 3-point range. James led the Cavaliers with 25 points, and Smith contributed 23 on the night. Atlanta, who shot only 40 percent from the field, were led by Paul Millsap’s 16.
Keys to the game
If Atlanta wants to regain an advantage over a Cleveland team that was 24-17 on the road in the regular season, they must ensure that they can stop the hot 3-point shooting that the Cavaliers have capitalized on throughout this post season. Additionally, they must look to slow down James, who has elevated his game even greater throughout these playoffs.
The Cavaliers, on the other hand, must continue to capitalize on their second-chance opportunities, stimulated by the offensive rebounding prowess of the newly appointed starting center, Tristan Thompson. Thompson grabbed seven offensive boards in game one and an additional four in game two of the series, bolstering Cleveland’s ability to get more shot attempts in the basket, furthering their already hot shooting.
Game three will be played Friday, May 6.