Cavs vs. Hawks Preview/Prediction W/ 5 Takes

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As the Eastern Conference Finals begin Wednesday in Atlanta, I’m thinking and really believing this is going to be an incredibly fun series. The Cleveland Cavaliers and the Atlanta Hawks have had long strange trips to get to this point, but they’re here and it’s time to decide an Eastern Conference champion.

It’s been a tough playoffs for both of these teams. Cleveland while going 8-2 in their 10 playoff games lost Kevin Love in the 1st round and played the majority of the 2nd round with a banged up Kyrie Irving. JR Smith was suspended for two games, lineups have changed plenty over and they’ve had to adjust their game on the fly. Of course their one constant is LeBron James who when it was time to put up or shut up in Games 4 and 5 against the Bulls, the best player in the world followed suit with a buzzer beater in Game 4 and a 38-12-6 performance in Game 5 to put the Cavs in control of the series. Cleveland’s key in this series is not only diversity offensively, but their ability to guard the Hawks potentially potent offense. Atlanta won 3 out of the 4 games but you have to throw most of that out with all of the turnover from the start of the season plus these teams just look and feel different now as opposed to then.

As far as Atlanta goes, they’ve gone 8-4 in these playoffs and in a lot of ways are still trying to find the consistent ball movement that got them 60 wins during the regular season. Really from game to game they’ve been inconsistent. Their bench has struggled and they’re also a bit banged up as well. Here’s 5 thoughts on the series plus a prediction.

 

1. Kyle Korver has to get going again.

Kyle Korver shot 49% from the 3 in the regular season. He’s down 14% points from that in the postseason. The Cavs really don’t have a defender in my opinion who can contain him well like Washington did. I feel like he’s going to get loose. He has to if the Hawks are to advance. He’s such a big part of their offense and opens up things for everyone.

2. DeMarre Carroll can’t get into foul trouble.

Atlanta lost Thabo Sefelosha towards the end of the regular season and are really limited in terms of wing depth. If DeMarre Carroll gets into foul trouble the Hawks are in some trouble. We may see some Kent Bazemore but beyond that Carroll has to stay on the court and be able to make LeBron work on defense enough to make him inefficient on offense.

3. An explosive Kyrie helps Everyone.

Kyrie Irving played the majority of the last series banged up. He’ll have to be plenty more explosive to take pressure off of LBJ and everyone else on the Cavs. It will also help mitigate and lessen the impact of his defense or lackthereof as he’ll have to guard Jeff Teague. Irving has to be good more less great for the Cavaliers to get to the Finals.

4. The Frontlines Will Play A Big Part In This Series.

See what I did there? It’s no secret that Tristan Thompson and Timofey Mozgov had a huge impact last series against Chicago with their activity, energy, and effort. Will they do the same here? It’s a tougher matchup for them as Paul Milsap and Al Horford are talented and tough to deal with offensively. Milsap has played banged up this postseason and we’ve only seen occasional spurts out of him. Horford won Game 5 of the Wizards series and has been consistent as well. The Hawks are undersized and have been out-rebounded for much of the season and playoffs. If the Cavs can make this matchup even, they have a good shot to win.

5. The Hawks Will Win This Series.

Everything on this series schematically tells me that the Hawks will win. Overall depth and health, more versatility in terms of lineups and matchups. The Cavaliers have to hope that LeBron is great, and Kyrie is good enough to help pull along the rest of the squad in order to win. If the Cavs had homecourt I might think of this series differently, but I like the Hawks in 6.

The Draft Lottery Open Letter From A Knicks Perspective

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The 2012-2013 season feels like a window into a bizarro time for the New York Knicks franchise. 54 wins and the 2nd best record in the Eastern Conference. Yes they lost to the Pacers in the 2nd round in a heartbreaking Game 6 but that was a season of mostly good feelings and mostly good vibes. If you take away that season, what since the 2000 run to the conference finals has given any other real positive feeling with reinforcement? Getting Carmelo? It was cool at the time, but to this point what have the Knicks had to show for it besides a couple of playoff appearances? Not much.

I keep thinking to myself as we get closer to Tuesday’s draft lottery that this is the kickoff point for the biggest stretch of decisions in Knicks history at this stage. They need to get this right for so many more reasons than just winning the lottery. The Phil Jackson situation as he is a novice executive with no track record of any sort is put to the test. If the Knicks get a pick lower than 2 will they trade it? I hope not because I believe in order to break the cycle and change the cycle you have to change what you do completely. When was the last time the Knicks had a draft pick this significant? I won’t quiz you guys because the fans know but you get my drift. I’m going to be sitting on my couch watching this draft lottery Tuesday night with all the hope that something will finally go right for the New York Knicks franchise.

This awful season that the team just endured wasn’t for the draft situation to get screwed up right? Right. The Knick fan (and rightfully so) has been conditioned to think that bad things will happen. Of course at this time we hear the story of Isiah Thomas taking a possible minority ownership stake in the New York Liberty which of course tells us that he’s back in Knicks fans lives to a degree. This feels like a sign of bad things to come, doesn’t it?

I think with everything thought and said I have to believe it will be alright this time. I have to believe that something will go right, and something will bounce the Knicks way, because it’s been enough of the other way, right? To all Knicks fans who will be watching that draft lottery with baited breath hoping to get the number 1 pick, I just have to ask; why not us?

 

AC’S Spotlight Episode 30-Remembering Anthony Mason & The 90’s Knicks

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I had to do a podcast to talk about the late Anthony Mason, who passed away a week ago Saturday. He exemplified the personality of those beloved Knicks teams in the 1990’s. To do that Anthony Donahue of the Knicks Blog Radio and the SNY Knicks podcast joined me to trade some 90’s stories and remember Anthony Mason.  You check out the podcast here.

 

 

 

 

AC’S Spotlight Episode 29 Parts I and II w/ Rafael Canton and Chris Herring

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The Trade Deadline is near and my podcast is back as both Rafael Canton and Chris Herring both joined me in this two part podcast. Part I is here and Part II is here. Thanks to both gentlemen for joining me to discuss Carmelo’s surgery and being out for the season, the Goran Dragic situation in Phoenix, and more around the league as we get close to the deadline.