Tag: Atlanta Hawks

Cleveland Cavaliers v Atlanta Hawks - Game One

Hobbled Kyrie Irving says he plans to play in Game 2 for Cavaliers


Kyrie Irving played the first 3:05 of the fourth quarter in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals, then went to the bench for the night. Tendonitis in his left knee has hobbled the All-Star guard to the point the Cavaliers were better with Matthew Dellavedova on the court.

But Irving plans to play in Game 2 Friday. From Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com.

“Right now, I’m pretty confident I’ll go,” Irving said after the game, visibly frustrated by his injuries affecting yet another one of his postseason performances.

That attitude shouldn’t be a surprise, this is the guy who last week said:

“I’d rather give 30 percent, 40 percent, rather than give none at all. I just literally can’t do it. I can’t sit on the bench and be hurt and be OK with that.”

The concerning thing is that Irving had almost a week off from the time the Cavaliers eliminated the Bulls to this Game 1, a week he spent getting rehab on his sore right foot and tender left knee. It didn’t help much, and coach David Blatt suggested Irving may have aggravated the knee during the game.

It showed on the court. Irving was not much help defensively in Game 1 and lacked the explosiveness that characterizes his game.

“The most frustrating point is seeing holes in the defense that I’m used to attacking,” Irving said. “I tried to make one move and accelerated and then I stopped and I passed it to Mozzy [Timofey Mozgov]. Mozzy missed the shot, and I came right out in the third quarter.”

He can still help the Cavaliers on the court with his shooting — he was 2-of-3 from three — but not much else. Still, he will start because he earned it

Still, he will start Game 2 because he earned it — and if the Hawks are smart they will attack him with Jeff Teague off the dribble. LeBron James needs some support in this series, and he got it in Game 1 from J.R. Smith and Tristan Thompson. Enough to get the Cavaliers the win.

He’ll try, but Cleveland can’t count on that support coming from Irving this series.


Hawks face uphill climb after DeMarre Carroll injury

Atlanta Hawks v Washington Wizards - Game Six

The Eastern Conference Finals may have just been decided in the worst possible way.

Nobody knows yet how bad DeMarre Carroll’s leg injury is yet. The Hawks are calling it a knee sprain for now, but it looks bad. Even if it isn’t as bad as it seemed at the time, Carroll couldn’t put weight on it after the Hawks’ Game 1 home loss to the Cavs, and it’s highly unlikely he plays in at least the next game, if not longer.

Which is an awful prospect, both for Carroll (coming up on free agency) and the Hawks, who now face the task of beating the best player in the world without the guy on their roster most equipped to guard him. Carroll has been the least talked-about member of the Hawks starting five, the only one that wasn’t named an All-Star. But he’s their best perimeter defender, and it’s not really close.

The most logical choice to guard LeBron James with Carroll out is Paul Millsap, who handled most of those duties after Carroll went down on Wednesday. Millsap can handle him in small stretches, but as the Hawks’ primary game plan (which he is now by default), he’s not nearly as well equipped as Carroll to do that heavy lifting.

In addition to creating a much greater defensive burden on the rest of the Hawks, Carroll’s injury is going to force their bench — which has been problematic for much of the playoffs — into a larger role. Kent Bazemore will probably get the starting nod at small forward, and he was solid in 16 minutes in Game 1, scoring 16 points on 4-of-5 shooting. He’ll bring energy on offense, but he isn’t nearly the defender Carroll is. What the Hawks got out of Dennis Schroder, Pero Antic and Mike Muscala off the bench on Wednesday is not encouraging. Maybe Mike Budenholzer will dust off Mike Scott, who’s fallen out of the rotation for most of the playoffs.

The Cavs won Game 1, but they’re still hobbled by injuries. They were carried on Wednesday night by J.R. Smith setting a playoff career high and hitting eight three-pointers. For the most part, this is still a series that James will have to do the heavy lifting for. The Hawks’ best hope was to make that workload as heavy as possible, and at least for the short term, they will have to find a way to do that without their defensive ace.

Carroll will get an MRI on Thursday, and he and the Hawks will have to hope that it’s “only” a strain or a hyperextension, not something much worse. Either way, they’ll probably be without him for at least the rest of this series, and that makes their road to the Finals much more difficult.

LeBron James gets help from red-hot J.R. Smith as Cavs take Game 1 from Hawks

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The question was never “Will LeBron James be good?” going into the Eastern Conference Finals. LeBron is LeBron, still the best player walking the face of the earth.

The question is would he get help?

On a night where Kyrie Irving looked nowhere near healthy, LeBron James got his help from J.R. Smith, who knocked down a franchise-record eight threes in his one-man quest to prove the hot hand theory. That, combined with some quality play from Tristan Thompson and some good defense, was enough.

The Cleveland Cavaliers went into Atlanta and took Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals from the Hawks 97-89. Game 2 is set for Friday night in Atlanta.

The new primary concern for the Hawks is they almost certainly will be without DeMarre Carroll for at least a few games. Midway through the fourth quarter, he was driving through the lane and planted on his left leg to leap when his knee just buckled. He fell to the ground in pain clutching that knee and had to be helped straight to the locker room. He will get an MRI on Thursday, and we hope the injury isn’t serious. That said, even if it is not I don’t see any way he could play Friday — and without him the Hawks are without their best perimeter defender.

The Hawks looked good as a team in the first half, in part because Jeff Teague was in attack mode — he had 17 of his 27 points in the first half and Atlanta as a team shot 58 percent. Still the Hawks could not pull away thanks to LeBron’s 14 points in the second quarter and the Cavaliers seven offensive rebounds in the first quarter. It was tied at the half 51-51.

The game was won by Cleveland during the J.R. Smith show late in the third. The Cavaliers went on a 22-4 run spanning the third and fourth quarters led by Smith knocking down contested three after contested three. LeBron made his plays in the fourth to maintain the lead, including a monster dunk that had Kyle Korver scurrying. LeBron finished with 31.

Kyle Korver’s numbers show how the Hawks offense never got moving — he took just five shots total, four from three (hitting two). Al Horford had an efficient 16 points, but the Hawks ball movement that defined them during the regular season. Cavaliers defenders started to play off Teague and Dennis Shroeder and dare them to shoot.

When the Hawks did shoot, it didn’t go in — they were 4-of-22 from beyond the arc in this game.

If Atlanta is going to bounce back in Game 2, they will need those shots to fall. They will need much more out of Paul Millsap (3-of-11 shooting), and they will need Kent Bazemore to step up with Carroll out.

For the Cavaliers, there are questions about Kyrie Irving and his leg. They had defensive lapses. Can they count on Smith or someone else to step up again?

But it’s a lot easier to ask those questions when you are up 1-0 like the Cavaliers.