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Cavs vs. Hawks--An EHC Buzz Session

(USA Today Sports)
The Cleveland Cavaliers face off against the Atlanta Hawks in the Eastern Conference Finals. After a losing Kevin Love against the Boston Celtics and suffering several bumps and bruises against the Chicago Bulls, the Cavs face the best record in the East as their final step on the way to the NBA Finals.

This is our first Buzz Session:

Jim Pete (@jimpeteehc)--Everybody Hates Cleveland

It's funny. I think this Cleveland Cavaliers team is more like the Lenny Wilkens-led Cavaliers than the pre-Miami Heat LeBron James' Cavaliers. No, this isn't as complete a "team," but they share the same grit and determination that those Mark Price-led teams carried with them.

A lot will be made of the Cavs only going 1-3 against the Hawks during the regular season, but this team isn't that team.

The Hawks do pose a ton of problems, and resemble a poor-mans San Antonio Spurs offensively thanks to ball movement and the ability to shoot the ball. If Paul Millsap and Al Horford are doing their best Tim Duncan impression, they can be downright deadly. The Cavs will iso a ton, with LeBron James and a gimpy Kyrie Irving leading the charge.

In the end, the team that plays the best defense wins, and while I think the Hawks look better there on paper, I think LeBron carries the day here. I say Cavs in six, but this is going to be a fun series.

Brian Heise (@WahoosBrian)--Everybody Hates Cleveland

Thanks to the injuries the Cavs are battling and the toughness and quality teamwork Atlanta has displayed this year, I think this is going to be a very entertaining and hard fought series. And while I think the Hawks will put up a good fight, the truth of the matter is the Cavs have LeBron James. He's the best player on the planet and will do everything it takes to get this team to the finals. The Hawks don't have anyone even close to his skill level and it will be on full display come the closing minutes of tight games. With that said, I'll take the Cavs in seven.


Josh Flagner (@Railbirdj)--More Than a Fan

It seems that Atlanta's only weakness defensively is allowing points on isolation plays, a fact that looks to be to Cleveland's advantage considering Kyrie and LeBron are two of the best iso players in the league.

On the flipside of the court, the Hawks lineups really hinge on Kyle Korver, but the darkhorse player the Cavs HAVE to stop is Jeff Teague. In the last four seasons, Teague has averaged three more points on 6% higher true shooting percentage, and a better assist to turnover ratio against Cleveland than any other team.

It's not an easy task to concentrate on keeping Korver's open looks to a minimum AND to make sure Teague regresses to his mean, but those are the two key areas the Cavs need to cover to win this series.

Oh. And no more injuries. Cavs in 6.

Nominataur (@Nominataur)--Everybody Hates Cleveland

This is a difficult series to predict as both teams have gone through some major transitions in the past few months.  Atlanta raced out to an incredible record, but has been sputtering for a few months now.  The Cavs gutted their way through a tough Chicago series, but never seemed to find an "answer" on how to replace Kevin Love.  It's certainly possibly the Hawks could just turn it back on and make this a cake walk.  It's also possible Kyrie gets healthy and the Cavs find a small-ball lineup much like the Heat did when they became the Flying Death Machine.

If I had to predict, though?  I'm going to say Hawks in 6 or 7.  The Cavs are beat up, scrambling to find lineups that work, and just had a full series of monster games from their role players.  The Hawks are a great shooting team who slumped horribly vs the Wizards, and that trend probably reverses at some point.  I'm also not sure how the Cavs respond to the Milsap / Horford front court.  It's going to create problems for Mozgov and the Cavs don't have a lot of depth there.  We may see a heavy dose of Shawn Marion this series as Tristan will most likely be glued to Horford.  Of course - if Kyrie is healthy and LeBron finds his jumper, none of that matters.  Gonna be fun.

Bob McDonald (@bobmcdonald)--More Than a Fan: Cleveland

It seems kind of strange to me that the Atlanta Hawks were at the top of the Eastern Conference standing at the end of the regular season. Perhaps it’s because their GM is Danny Ferry. But that didn't seem to make a difference, and the Hawks tore the league up with the ability to seemingly score at will. And with a core of Jeff Teague, Kyle Korver, Al Horford and Paul Millsap, there’s very little wonder why.

For the Cavs, this is where losing Kevin Love is going to hurt. Love and Tristan Thompson would have matched up much better on Horford and Millsap than Thompson and Timofey Mozgov will. And Korver is going to give Iman Shumpert and JR Smith everything that he’s got, especially if he’s got the hot hand.

But Cleveland’s still got LeBron James and Kyrie Irving (well, 75 percent of Kyrie Irving), who still are two of the best players in the league. They both still own the fourth quarter, which is why the Cavs will win the series in six games.

Matt Kasznel (@mkasznel)--Everybody Hates Cleveland

As beat up as the Cavs are, having had a series to work out their new on-the-fly roster will help them immensely in the long run. The team’s depth is so much greater than any team LeBron James had in his first tour with Cleveland, which has given them the flexibility they need to score against a variety of lineups. Make no mistake, the Cavs are an offensively-minded team, and they’ve made Kevin Love very nervous about his offseason paycheck after showing they can adjust that offense against the Bulls’ typically stingy Tom Thibodeau defense

Look, the Hawks aren’t the 2004 Pistons or any iteration of the last 15 years of Spurs teams, despite what Mike Budenholzer would like you to believe based on his periodic resting of guys in their 20s or nominating his whole friggin’ starting five for “Player of the Month.” It’s not that their pass-heavy, Larry Brown wet dream of a “team ball” offense is all smoke and mirrors or anything; it’s that it hasn’t translated to a postseason where they suffer in most individual matchups that Al Horford isn’t a part of. 

The Hawks are done.  They’re sluggish. They’ve been unable to close out Brooklyn and the (mostly) John Wall-less Wizards when they could have. DeMarre Carroll (!) is leading the team in playoff scoring. This isn’t sustainable, and it ends here. Cavs in 5.

Mike Hattery (@hatmanehc)--Everybody Hates Cleveland


This series is going to go seven games and will end with the Cavaliers advancing to the NBA Finals. For both teams, these rosters are not their best with the Cavs visibly less effective missing Love and the Hawks lacking the surprisingly valuable Sefolosha.

In the post-season, the Hawks offense has transitioned from well-oiled machine to inconsistent and cluttered. Teams have done a better job of facing up Korver, and forcing other Hawks pieces to beat them. I expect the Cavaliers to do the same.

Ultimately, with Irving healing, I will always bet on the team with the two best players on the floor, the Cavs have a rested Lebron and healing Irving, they will win this series.

This should be the first of many Buzz Sessions here at #EHC, in collaboration with a ton of great writers across the internet via our site and More Than a Fan. Make sure you follow all of the fantastic writers that took part! Leave comments below!
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