The Great, Not So Great, & Bottom Line of Cavs’ victory over Atlanta

Coming off a tough loss against the Charlotte Hornets on Friday night, the Cleveland Cavaliers were hoping to get their first win of the season on Saturday in the second half of a back-to-back against the Atlanta Hawks at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.

Fortunately for Cleveland, they got it done!

The Cavaliers(1-2)defeated the Hawks(1-1) 101-95.

The Great for the Cavaliers:

-After saying Friday’s loss was on him due to his six turnovers, Ricky Rubio came back strong against the Hawks. He had a team-high 23 points and eights assists; he also added six rebounds. Rubio is off to a excellent start for Cleveland as he got his second consecutive start for an injured Darius Garland(ankle).

-Evan Mobley continued his solid play on Saturday night. The rookie had his first career double-double with 17 points and 11 rebounds. He also had a game-high four block shots. The third overall pick anchored the Cavs zone defense. When the Cavs switched to a 3-2 zone, Mobley, according to Cavs head coach J.B Bickerstaff, acted as Hall of Famer Kevin Garnett. 

“It’s a Flip Saunders zone that I watched a lot when I was in Minnesota,” Bickerstaff said. “Seeing Evan’s ability to move through that made me think of when K.G. was playing at the top of that zone.”

-Defense: In the first game of the season against the Grizzlies, Cleveland gave up 132 points, and in the next game versus the Hornets, they allowed 123 points. Against the Hawks, the defense was much better. Cleveland held Atlanta below 100 points(95), and the Hawks shot only 38% from the field. Great response by the Cavs on the defensive end, especially in the second half, as they allowed the Hawks to score only 40 points.

-Third-quarter: Cleveland got it done in the third quarter. They outscored the Hawks 31-17. Atlanta shot 6/26(23%) from the field. Mobley had 9 of his 17 points in the third, and Cleveland led by as many as 14 points in the quarter. The Cavs had a 21-0 run from the end of the second quarter into the third.

-Fourth-quarter: Yes, Cleveland was outscored 23-18 in the fourth quarter, but this has been a sore spot for the Cavaliers. In the first two games, they had been outscored by a combined 17 points. However, while they were outscored again in the fourth on Saturday night, they held on and won the game.

-Kevin Love and Isaac Okoro both gave Cleveland solid minutes off the bench. Love had 6 points and a team-high 11 rebounds on Friday night and had another strong performance on Saturday night with 12 points, six rebounds, and three assists in 24 minutes of action. Okoro added nine points, four rebounds, and three assists. In addition, the second-year player helped hold Trae Young to 8/22 shooting from the field. 

-Jarrett Allen had his first double-double of the season with 11 points and 14 rebounds. Allen had a combined eight rebounds in the first two games.

-Rebounding: Cleveland was outrebounded by both the Grizzlies(53-36) and Hornets(46-36), but Saturday night was a different story. The Cavs did a better job on the glass. Both teams had 54 rebounds. 

The Not so Great for the Cavaliers:

N/A!!!

Bottom Line:

Cleveland beat a Hawks team that went to the Eastern Conference last season, and they did it without Garland. The Cavs played with toughness, showed grit and heart—an excellent win for this team. Also, Cleveland needed this game because they have a tough five-game trip coming up.

What’s Next:

The Cavaliers begin their five-game road trip on Monday night in Denver against the Nuggets. After Denver, they have two in Los Angeles against the Clippers on Wednesday and the Lakers on Friday. They travel to Phoenix to play the Suns on Saturday, and they conclude their road trip in Charlotte on Monday(11/1).

Best of the rest:

Hawks’ Trae Young led the way for Atlanta with 24 points and seven assists, Cam Reddish had 19 points off the bench, and Clint Capela added 10 points and 14 rebounds.

Cavs’ Collin Sexton had 12 points and five assists, Lauri Markkanen added 12 points(3-15 FG) and eight rebounds.

Watch below as Love, Rubio, and Mobley react to Cleveland’s first win of season:

Mavs’ Kidd: ‘We gotta get better in that third quarter, and we will’

The Atlanta Hawks came into the 2021-22 season trying to prove that last season’s run to the Eastern Conference Finals wasn’t a fluke, while the Mavericks, with a new coach in Jason Kidd, are hoping to make a deep playoff run of their own. 

After one game, Atlanta looks deeper than they did last season and a team that will definitely be a factor in Eastern Conference. The Hawks had six players in double figures led by Cam Reddish’s 20 points off the bench, Trae Young had 19 points and 14 assists, and John Collins 16 points and nine rebounds as the Hawks routed the Mavericks 113-87 at State Farm Arena on Wednesday night.

The Hawks were big-time on the defensive end; they held the Mavericks to 33% shooting from the field and forced 15 turnovers. Atlanta blew the game open in the third quarter with 22-8 run. The Hawks led by as many as 22 points in the third and had their largest lead of 30 in the fourth. 

Young got off in the third. He scored 12 points and nine assists in the quarter, and Kidd, who knows a lot about excellent point guard play, talked about Young’s passing and Dallas’ struggles in the third.

“He’s improved, and I said that before,” Kidd said about Young. “He’s gotten better each year on the one side of passing the ball and not turning it over… “In the first half, we couldn’t ask for a better defensive performance. We just couldn’t make any shots. You’re talking about an All-Star in Young.. We gotta get better in that third quarter, and we will.”

Doncic, who led the Mavericks with 18 points on 6/17 shooting from the field, added on the third quarter: “They were making shots, and we weren’t making shots. They played great defense, and we weren’t at their level on defense, so that’s it.”

The Mavericks may struggle initially as the team learns to adjust to Kidd’s new offense and style, and it’s only one of 82, so there’s not much to worry about at this point. Plus, Atlanta appears to be a very good team.

Dallas gets back at it on Saturday in Toronto against the Raptors. 

 

 

Hawks extend Young, re-sign Collins, Williams

The Atlanta Hawks have signed point guard Trae Young to a max contract extension, which begins with the 2022-23 season, re-signed F John Collins and G Lou Williams, the team announced on Friday.

According to reports, Young signed a five-year, $172 million rookie max contract extension. Collins reportedly signed a five-year deal worth $125 million, and Williams signed a reported one-year deal worth $5 million.

Most recently, Young, 22, helped lead the Hawks to the Eastern Conference Finals for the second time in Atlanta franchise history, averaging 28.8 points and 9.5 assists per game during the team’s run. The three-year veteran became the first player in NBA history to post at least 20 points and seven-or-more assists in each of his first 13 career playoff games.

In 63 starts last season, Collins, 23, averaged 17.6 points, 7.4 rebounds, 1.2 assists, and 1.0 blocks in 29.3 minutes. The four-year veteran finished 18th in the NBA in FG%, tied for 23rd in rpg and 26th in bpg.  

During the Hawks’ recent run to the Eastern Conference Finals, Collins put in 13.9 points and 8.7 rebounds.

In 66 games last season (24 with the Hawks and 42 with the Clippers), the 34-year-old Williams averaged 11.3 points, 3.4 assists, and 2.1 rebounds in 21.6 minutes. The 16-year veteran is a three-time winner of the NBA’s Sixth Man Award (2015, 2018, 2019, tied with Jamal Crawford for the most in league history).

The Hawks have a nice young core, and Young, who had a tremendous playoff run, is turning into one of the best point guards in basketball. Collins is young, athletic, and continues to grow his game. Hopefully, he continues to grow after getting paid. Williams is not a walking bucket any longer, but he can still score.

Atlanta might be better next season, but it might not be good enough. Even though they beat Philadelphia in the playoffs, I think 76ers, Bucks, and Nets are still better for now, but the Hawks are still a franchise that is trending upwards.

 

 

Ex-NBA C.J. Watson on Simmons against Hawks: ‘Honestly, it’s hard to watch’

The Philadelphia 76ers had a great opportunity to make a long playoff run this season. Philadelphia had the best record in the Eastern Conference and was clear favorites against the Atlanta Hawks in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

After three games, the 76ers led the series against Atlanta 2-1 and had an 18-point lead in Game 4 and a 26-point lead in Game 5, but they would lose both games and ultimately lose the series in 7. 

In the series against Atlanta, Ben Simmons, who was first-team all-defense this season, struggled on the offensive end. The three-time All-Star averaged 9.8 points per game in the series and shot 15/45 from the free-throw line. Late in Game 7, he had an opportunity for a dunk, but it passed it off. Simmons took only four shots in Game 7 and finished the game 2/4 from the field with only five points. 

According to former NBA player C.J. Watson, a recent guest of the Go4it podcast hosted by Paul Gant, it was tough to watch Simmons struggle against the Hawks.

“I think it’s just a lack of confidence,” Watson said. “Honestly, it’s hard to watch, but the NBA Is going into bigger guards, which is fine, but you gotta be able to score. If I were a coach or GM, I would want to pick players, who are all threats on the court, so I want five people who can shoot the ball, who can dribble, and who can be all interchangeable. Things of that nature.”

When asked if the 76ers can have success with Simmons if he does not shoot, Watson said the following.

“Without shooting, I don’t think so,” Watson said. “I think he has to develop a jump shot, at least. “It doesn’t have to be a three-point jump shot. It has to be at least a free-throw line jump shot, be able to hit a pull-up jumper, something of that nature, but he has to be able to score the ball. Like we said, he’s already an effective player. If he could add that one piece to his game, he could be even better. and help his team more.”

Philadelphia has an interesting decision to make with Simmons. Do they keep him and hope he grows his game on the offensive end, or do they trade him? 

If it were up to Watson, Simmons would be traded.

“I think I have to break them up,” Watson said about the Embiid-Simmons pairing. “I think they need more shooting around a guy like Joel Emibiid. He definitely has to have shooting. They have to take the model like the Phoenix Suns have. If you have a big like that, who can score the ball, you have to put a lot of shooting around him, a lot of guys who don’t need the ball, a lot of defensive guys. I think that’s what they’re missing.”

You can win with the 24-year-old Simmons if you don’t have to rely on his scoring, so if Philly can find another scorer, they can win. However, if they bring the same team back next season, they will continue to run into the same problems unless Simmons grows his game on the offensive end.

Watson talks Simmons at the 10:20 and the 31:46 mark of the video:

The 76ers will get to the Eastern Conference finals, guaranteed!

The Philadelphia 76ers were in complete control in Game 5 of their Eastern Conference second-round series against the Hawks on Wednesday night. Philly was up by as many as 26 points in the third quarter and entered the fourth quarter leading by 18 points.

However, things went south for Philadelphia in the fourth. The Hawks outscored the 76ers 40-19 in the final quarter, and ultimately, the comeback was complete as Atlanta defeated the 76ers 109-106 at Wells Fargo Center to take a 3-2 series lead.

According to ESPN Stats & Info, the 26-point blown lead was the third-largest blown lead in a playoff game over the last 25 postseasons.

Game 6 is on Friday night in Atlanta, and if the Hawks could pull it off, they will return to the Eastern Conference finals for the first time since 2015.

Trae Young had another huge game on the road. In six road playoff games, Young is averaging 32.2 points, 9.0 assists, and 3.0 rebounds. Young had 39 points and seven assists on Wednesday night, including 13 points in the fourth, and Lou Williams scored 13 of his 15 points in the final quarter.

What an amazing turnaround for the Hawks, and what a big-time letdown for the 76ers. In the past two games, Philadelphia, who had an 18-point lead against the Hawks in Game 4, has not gotten much from their top three players in the fourth quarter. Joel Embiid(1-10), Tobias Harris(0-5), and Ben Simmons(0-0) shot a combined 1/15 from the field in the fourth quarters of the last two games.

With their backs against the wall, Philadelphia will now have to win in a hostile environment to keep its season alive. State Farm Arena will be rocking on Friday night, but according to their head coach Doc Rivers, the 76ers will win Game 6 and bring the series back to Philly for Game 7 on Sunday night.

“We’ll get back up,” Rivers said postgame. “We’ll be back here for Game 7. I believe that.”

Philadelphia is still the better team in this series. Usually, the better team wins in a best-of-seven-series in the NBA, so expect the 76ers to bring this series back to Philadelphia and win it in 7. If they don’t, it will be a long offseason in Philadelphia

Notes:

Simmons has struggled from the free-throw line in the playoffs and this series. The Hawks used the “Hack-a-Ben” strategy in Game 5, and it worked. Simmons shot 4-14 from the line on Wednesday night and became the first guard in NBA history to miss ten free throws in a playoff game, and the ten missed free throws are the most by any player in a game this season.

In the playoffs this season, Simmons is shooting 33% from the foul line.

-Seth Curry had a career-playoff-high 36 points on Wednesday night. Curry shot 13/19 from the field, including 7/12 from three-point range.

The 76ers may regret their Game 4 loss to Atlanta

The fewer games you play in the postseason, the better off you will be. As the playoffs continue for the Philadelphia 76ers, they might regret what transpired on Monday night in Game 4 of their Eastern Conference semifinals series against the Atlanta Hawks. 

Philadelphia led by as many as 18 points against the Hawks in the first half, but Joel Embiid would struggle in the second half, and Atlanta would rally and win Game 4 at home 103-100 to even this best-of-seven series at 2.  

Game 5 is Wednesday night in Philadelphia.

Embiid, who was 0-12 from the field in the second half, was 4-20 from the field and finished with 17 points and 21 rebounds. However, he was clearly limited by the right meniscus tear he suffered in the first round against Washington. At one point in Game 4, Embiid had to go back to the locker room to deal with the knee.

“I thought in the beginning of the game when I went back to the locker room, I just felt like I didn’t have it tonight,” Embiid said.

As bad as he played in this game, Embiid, who was averaging 30.8 points and 13.o rebounds per game in the first four games of this series, had an opportunity to give the 76ers a lead late in the game but missed a layup with 16.6 seconds left. According to Embiid, he did have enough lift to finish.

“Great look. Great look. I just didn’t have the lift,” Embiid said. “Thought I got fouled too. But usually, I would go up, especially for a bucket like that, try to dunk it.”

Philly is the better team in this series, which makes this loss even harder to stomach for them. Who knows how many games Embiid’s knee has left in the playoffs?

The 76ers will still win this series, probably in six, but winning in five games would have been better because Embiid could use the rest. 

The 76ers have championship aspirations, and when you are going for a championship, you don’t want to play extra games. So now, unfortunately for Philadelphia, they have to play at least one additional game in this series, and if they are not careful, it could be two.

Hawks’ Trae Young diagnosed with lateral left ankle sprain

Trae Young, who left last night’s loss to the Knicks due to a sprained left ankle, was diagnosed with a lateral left ankle sprain, the team announced on Thursday.

Young had an MRI on Thursday, which confirmed the injury after an X-ray taken at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday night came back negative.

According to the team, Young will be listed as out for tomorrow’s game vs. Miami and Sunday vs. Milwaukee, and his status will be updated as appropriate.

Young, the Hawks leading scorer, is averaging 25.3 points, 9.6 assists, and 3.9 rebounds per game. 

At 32-27, Atlanta is the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference.

Cavs end 10-game losing streak with win over Hawks

The losing streak is finally over for the Cleveland Cavaliers(11-21). After ten straight losses, Cleveland was able to breakthrough in a thrilling fashion against the Atlanta Hawks(13-18).

With the team trailing by one late in the game, rookie Lamar Stephens hammered home the game-winning dunk with 4.1 seconds left to give Cleveland a 112-111 win over Atlanta at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse on Tuesday night. 

After the game, Stephens, who said this was his first game-winning shot on any level, described what happened on the game-winning play.

“About the last play, it goes into what coach said to us from day one,” Stephens said. “We want to be the hardest playing team; we want to be the most unselfish team every single night, and I think that goes to Collin(Sexton), being the leading scoring, a guy, a lot of guys look to. He trusted me with the ball, so I just wanted to be aggressive for my teammates, and I think he made an unselfish play, and I was able to get an open lane to go finish the basket.”

Cleveland had five players in double-figures led by Collin Sexton’s 29 points, and according to Cavaliers head coach J.B. Bickerstaff, Tuesday’s win was a total team effort. 

“The best part of that game is when you go up and down the stat sheet, literally everybody who played contributed to winning that game tonight,” Bickerstaff said. “So, that’s what made it even better and even sweeter. Although, they all taste sweet at this point.”

Bickerstaff was also happy about rookie Isaac Okoro’s defense, who held Hawks star Trae Young to 9-27 from the field. 

“You look at what Isaac(Okoro) was able to do with Trae Young, forcing him to 9 for 27 shooting,” he said. “I think it was individuals who took a team challenge, and collectively, we got the job done.”

Everyone contributed to this win, and that is what Cleveland needed to break the losing streak. Now, they hope to make a new streak when they battle the Rockets at home on Wednesday night. 

Notes:

Despite the poor shooting, Young led Atlanta with 28 points on Tuesday night.

Cleveland got 40 points from its bench against the Hawks, and were led by Dylan Windler, who had 15 points, including 5-5 from three-point range.

Hawks on Vince Carter: ‘It’s an honor to the Hawks organization that he completed his Hall-of-Fame career wearing Atlanta across his chest’

After 22 years of amazing basketball, and at the age of 43, Vince Carter has decided to call it quits. Carter announced his retirement on The Ringer’s podcast ‘Winging It‘ on Thursday. 

The eight-time All-Star played the last two seasons of his career with the Atlanta Hawks. In Carter’s final game against the Knicks after the NBA announced it was suspending the season because of COVID-19, Carter hit a three in the final seconds of the game, which turned out to be the final points of his career. 

Ending his career with a three was fitting when you consider that Carter was not only a great athlete and dunker, but he was an excellent shooter. Carter ends his career with 2,290 made three-pointers, which is sixth all-time in NBA history.

Carter, who put on maybe the greatest dunking exhibition in the 2000 Slam Dunk Contest, will go down as one of the greatest dunkers in league history.

In 1998, Carter was drafted fifth overall by the Warriors and was traded to the Raptors in a draft-day trade. Carter would win the 1999 Rookie of the Year with Toronto. He would go on to play for the Nets, Magic, Suns, Mavericks, Grizzlies, Kings, and Hawks. Carter is the only player in NBA history to play 22 seasons and play in four different decades.

Expect Carter to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer!

After Carter announced his retirement, the Hawks released a statement.

Read below:

“Over the last two years, Vince Carter has been a committed leader, respected mentor and influential example on the court, in the locker room and in the Atlanta community. Throughout his historic 22-year journey covering an unprecedented four different decades, his evolving career arc was perhaps like none other in league history – from Top 5 Draft Pick to Rookie of the Year to Slam Dunk Champion to superstar and eight-time All-Star to Twyman-Stokes Teammate of the Year and valuable role player. It’s an honor to the Hawks organization that he completed his Hall-of-Fame career wearing Atlanta across his chest and representing our city.”

Hawks’ GM on Capela: ‘We are excited to add Clint to our young core’

 The Atlanta Hawks have acquired centers Clint Capela and Nene from the Houston Rockets in a four-team trade involving 12 players, it was announced on Wednesday. As part of the exchange, the Hawks traded guard/forward Evan Turner and a conditional future first round pick (acquired from Brooklyn on July 6, 2019) to the Minnesota Timberwolves and sent a 2024 second round pick (acquired from Golden State on June 20, 2019) to the Houston Rockets.

The Timberwolves also acquire Malik Beasley, Juancho Hernangomez and Jarred Vanderbilt from the Denver Nuggets while Houston will receive Jordan Bell and Robert Covington from the Timberwolves. The Nuggets receive Keita Bates-Diop, Noah Vonleh and Shabazz Napier from Minnesota and Gerald Green and a 2020 first-round pick from Houston.

Capela, originally selected 25th overall by the Rockets in the 2014 NBA Draft, has averaged 12.2 points on .634 shooting, 9.7 rebounds and 1.5 blocks in 26.0 minutes per game over his 334 career games (274 starts). In 39 games (all starts) this season, the 6-foot-10, 240-pound center is averaging 13.9 points on .629 shooting (4th in the NBA), 13.8 rebounds (4th in the NBA) and 1.9 blocks (7th in the NBA) in 32.8 minutes per game. A native of Switzerland, Capela currently ranks 10th in the NBA with 27 double-doubles, including four double-doubles of at least 20 points and 20 rebounds.

“We are excited to add Clint to our young core. He fills a need for us inside with his ability to protect the rim and rebound at an elite level and offensively, he gives our group another strong finisher and roll man,” said President of Basketball Operations and General Manager Travis Schlenk.

The five-year veteran has played in 61 playoff games (39 starts) with averages of 8.3 points on .606 shooting, 7.7 rebounds and 1.4 blocks in 21.4 minutes per game. During the 2018-19 season, Capela, 25, ranked second in the NBA in field goal percentage (.648) and became just the third different player in NBA history to have shot at least .640 from the field while averaging at least 16.0 points per game in a single season joining Wilt Chamberlain and Artis Gilmore. He will wear jersey No. 17.

Capela’s size is something the Hawks could use, and while this season is pretty much over for Atlanta, the Hawks continue to build their core for the future and beyond.