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Found 38 results

  1. Will this JC be resurrected in Utah? ~lw3
  2. Like many of you, I saw Last Chance U coming from Elyria. ~lw3
  3. Cleveland's got no beef with this Koby. ~lw3
  4. He Zizzed when he should've Zagged. ~lw3
  5. I'd call it The Blatt Treatment, but LeBron's not even around for this one! I feel a... SENSE OF URGENCY up there! ~lw3
  6. “Just for that, playa, YOU get to go one on one with THE UNDERTAKER!” Whether you’re a Hue, or a Lue, it’s true, you’re feeling pretty blue. Despite arriving from altogether different paths, brutally misguided ownership and fumbled mismanagement greased the skids for lost jerbs of two Cleveland coaches. That’s right, Blatt – excuse me – Black Sunday and Black Monday came a tad bit early to the shores of Lake Erie. While the irascible Gregg Williams becomes the latest lackey to try revving up the Factory of Sadness, the shakeup on the hardwood leaves one familiar face to Atlanta Hawks Nation in a bit of a pickle. As the Hawks make their swift return to Quicken Loans Arena, the scene of a crime they committed just nine days ago to set Tyronn Lue’s ouster in motion, Larry Drew takes over as the interim coach for the Cavaliers (7:00 PM Eastern, Fox Sports Southeast and 92.9 FM in ATL, Fox Sports Ohio in CLE). At least, he kinda will, so we think. If there’s anybody outside of Montreal who knows a thing or two about screwjobs, it’s Coach Drew. After a mediocre effort running the show under new management, the longtime Hawks assistant and ex-head coach got the “It’s Not You, It’s Me,” treatment from Danny Ferry in 2013, as the latter had an eye on replacing him with his bud Bud from San Antonio. Given a chance to linger around the Hawks War Room until he got his new gig coaching the Bucks, supplanting interim coach Jim Boylen, Drew soon stuck it to Ferry. He encouraged his new brain trust, led by GM John Hammond, to swipe little-known 19-year-old Giannis Antetokounmpo right out from underneath Atlanta on Draft Night 2013. Taking over a bold-faced tankjob effort commanded by the likes of Brandon Knight and Ramon Sessions, John Henson and O.J. Mayo, Drew was ready to start reaping the rewards after Draft Night 2014, when the Bucks snagged Duke superstar Jabari Parker with the second-overall pick. Oh, but about that… Bucks owner Marc Lasry wanted his palsy-walsy Jason Kidd to take over the rebuild, working around Hammond to woo the soda-spiller from Brooklyn and unceremoniously dump Drew. While he never established a winner with the Bucks, it should be noted that Hammond would eventually leap at the first opportunity, parlaying the draft advice he wisely took from Drew into a cushy executive gig in sunny Orlando. Drew, however, was left out in the cold in the summer of 2014. That was until David Blatt offered up a lifeline. The new Cavs coach, Blatt already had the NBA’s highest-paid lead assistant, in Lue, to help raise up the neophytes on the roster. But plans got accelerated when it became clear that LeBron James and, soon, Kevin Love were coming to The Land, so Blatt wanted reinforcements among his staff. As a Hawks assistant, Drew coached Lue in Atlanta, from the point guard’s arrival in 2005 through the Bibby trade in 2008. Drew was also on the Lakers staff during Tyronn’s rookie season, back in 1999. Blatt figured this duo would surely work well together… under him. Perhaps unbeknownst to Blatt, James held retired NBA players Lue and Drew in high regard. Very high. So much so, in fact, that despite an NBA Finals appearance, an embarrassing mid-season loss to the champion Warriors was all that LeBron needed to get the shiv out on Blatt. That moved Tyronn and Larry up a chair just in time for luck to strike in the Finals and Cleveland’s championship drought to end. Lue gained media acclaim for his ability to kickstart his club coming out of timeouts -- a product, I am sure, of the X-and-O stuff that Larry “Drew” over the years on Lue’s behalf. Drew capably handled the top task last season during Lue’s medical leave, the Cavs winning eight of nine games. Along the way to several NBA Finals, sticking it to the Hawks team Ferry and Bud carefully crafted was a nice extra dose of comeuppance for Lue and Drew. It was all quite a fun run. Right up until LeBron tired of stringing Cavs owner Dan Gilbert along and set foot for L.A. Funny thing, if you go into the summer, a three-time reigning Eastern Conference champ, knowing you’re likely to lose James, and you supplant his production (and, sure, Jeff Green’s) with that of a wide-eyed rookie in Collin Sexton, free agent David Nwaba, and Sam Dekker, things aren’t bound to start out terribly well. They certainly won’t finish well if Love, granted a four-year extension just for being kind enough to want to hang around a bit longer, can’t stay healthy year-round. Already slow of foot as he is, fluid in Kevin’s toe is going to continue having the franchise face out of action for this game and, probably, well beyond, with Dekker getting his fifth-ever NBA start in Love’s place. I’m not sure what kind of magic Gilbert expected out of Lue, but it can’t be much different than the sorcery the Haslams expected to see by now from Hue. Where does all this leave us, with the Drew-lemma? The Conun-drew? Gilbert, naturally, wants Larry to just slide over into his dear friend’s seat and pretend nothing else – including the paycheck – needs to change. Jet propulsion isn’t Larry’s forte, yet it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see where this season is headed for whoever takes the reins from Lue. Should he choose to accept this position, Drew knows a dumpster fire bigger than anything ever seen in the Cuyahoga is headed his way. Oh, need it be mentioned, there are four games yet to play against the undefeated Bucks, starring the Greece Lightning kid that he, himself, tipped that clueless team about? A Bucks team, coached by that peevish dude Ferry tapped to take his jerb in Atlanta? Never mind Milwaukee, or Indiana, who shot 64.9 percent from the floor and cruised to a 119-107 win on this floor in Saturday’s swan song for Lue. Isn’t this the same Central Division that the lottery pick he tanked so hard for is still in? Only now Parker’s in Chicago, listening to associate head coach Boylan, the guy Drew supplanted in Milwaukee, and one of the Cav assistants Gilbert dumped this summer to save some pennies, while keeping Drew to stick around? Are you jotting all this down, Shakespeare? Yeah, if I’m Coach Drew, you bet your bottom dollar I’d be demanding top dollar. Guaranteed cash. And no, none of this “interim” business. If I’m gonna get canned by the end of the season anyway, at least make it clear that I’m nobody’s placeholder. Look at me. I’m the “acting” coach now. Oh, and doesn’t he and his agent have to negotiate with the king of subprime lending, the guy who thinks any young fool (sorry, Koby Altman, and you, too, Danny) could do the GM job on the cheap and be happy about it, to get a fair shake? You’d better ask for a second-year option, LD. Double-check the fine print, and the font, before you sign anything. Today, Drew has to gather the troops – old fogies like Kyle Korver, Tristan Thompson, and J.R. Smith, newbies like Rodney Hood, Cedi Osman, Larry Nance and Dekker – rally them around all the One For All and Be The Fight catchphrases, and prepare the Cavaliers (0-6) for a must-win, payback match against… the Hawks. Of, course, Larry, it simply has to be the Hawks. I don’t write the tragedies, man, I just sit back and watch them unfold. Tonight’s contest sets a baseline for what the NBA can come to expect from the Love-less Cavaliers going forward, or, how soon some talented college freshmen may choose to add parkas to their winter shopping lists. The Hawks (2-4) are missing a talented body or two, as well. On top of that, they arrive for their first back-to-back of the young season after getting walloped in the second-half last night in Philly. This time out, I am quite confident that Drew has a better gameplan, than Lue, to brace for the wrath of Kentean Princemore. Anything is better than just sitting back and watching Princemore (12-for-29 FGs, 4 TOs in Atlanta’s 133-111 win on Oct. 21) jack up shots and driving to the hoop uncontested, while Trae Young (6-for-14 3FGs, 35 points and 11 assists @ CLE; 8 assists and no TOs @ PHI) takes target practice from the outside. A gameplan is great, but willful execution is a whole other ball of wax. Upon Hood, Osman, Clarkson and the less-expereienced members of the Cavs (30th in D-Rating and Opponent FG%), Drew needs to expound that if you’re content anticipating that Princemore (8-for-27 FGs, 5 TOs last night @ PHI) will eventually dribble the ball of its foot out of bounds, that the Hawks (37.2 FG% @ PHI) will keep missing all their shots and the rebounds will magically bounce into your arms, then you’d do just as well sitting beside him and letting The J.R. Swish Show take hold. What if Coach Drew doesn’t have a trick in his bag to make the Cavs go after opponents defensively? What if slipping up in this game is not the most embarrassing of defeats that lie ahead? What if he, and the vets, all mentally check out? Before November? What’s round at the ends, and has the initials for Hawks Nation right in the middle? “OH NO!” Let’s Go Hawks! ~lw3 View full record
  7. **not sure if this could help or hurt our Cavspick lol** ~lw3
  8. Ooooh, I am for real... Were I Ms. Jackson, I'd have demanded the ownership's threats to be made clear, concise, and written in Comic Sans font. ~lw3
  9. "Next time, on Game of Runs!..." Nothing helps your headaches quite like arguing with your superstar player in front of a live audience! ~lw3
  10. "You like Brazilian music?” Our Hawks played the Competitank to perfection last night in Orlando (Dewayne Dedmon Stepback FTL!). Their reward is a trip back home to Atlanta, where The King, LeBron James, and a smattering of his subjects on the Cleveland Cavaliers have been waiting for one final head-to-head tonight (7:30 PM Eastern, Fox Sports Southeast, Fox Sports Southeast and 92.9 FM in ATL, Fox Sports Ohio). Aside from LeBron, who are left standing after “The Purge: Anarchy” unfolded off Lake Erie? The remnant Cavs making the trip down from the Buckeye State include a handful of vets: J.R. Smith, Tristan Thompson, Jeff Green, and ex-Hawks Kyle Korver and Jose Calderon. The new arrivals should help transform the locker room from something less like “Grumpy Old Men”, to something more resembling “Romper Room”. Cavs’ GM Koby Altman, who pulled the trigger on deals dispatching Isaiah Thomas, Dwyane Wade and Derrick Rose to distant NBA locales, hopes the net effect will be positive for the homegrown star he can only hope will stick around a bit longer. “I think we’re going to get a rejuvenated LeBron James, and that’s the key,” Altman said to USA TODAY and media reporters, going so far as to invoke the always-popular C-word. “We were worried that what was going on, on the floor, and the Culture on the building, we thought we were marching a slow death. The window we have with LeBron and this time, it was the time to do something and have some sustainability going forward… I think we’re going to be fun, athletic, and exciting to watch.” Which direction that George Hill, Jordan Clarkson, Rodney Hood and Larry Nance will collectively nudge the Cavs, relative to Boston, Toronto and the title contenders out West, is anyone’s guess. But as was the case versus Minnesota, the directives to ensure a chance at victory remain the same. Don’t waste LeBron’s valuable time having to come help with the man who keeps beating you off the dribble. On offense, get the ball to LeBron, and clear out to the perimeter awaiting further instruction. Step up on the floor, or in the locker room, only when LeBron calls upon you to do so. This King’s newest subordinates will be far more apt to take heed. While Cavs coach Ty Lue would appreciate having the recipients from Cleveland’s mega-trades available, they’re still clearing physicals and stuff. So, it appears likely he will have to make-do with youngsters like Cedi Osman, Ante Zizic, and a pair of “European”-sounding two-way contractors (London Perrantes, John Holland) to fill in the gaps. T-Lue (2-1 against ATL) would also appreciate winning the season series against Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer tonight, something his reigning Eastern Conference champs could not accomplish last season (1-3 against ATL in 2016-17). He’ll start Calderon and Smith, plus Osman (the energetic rookie’s first NBA start) and Thompson alongside You-Know-Who. It’s hard to suggest any team featuring James (career-high 17 assists in a 123-114 win vs. ATL on Dec. 12) is “shorthanded”. But victory tonight for Lue’s “shorthanded” assemblage would help build much-needed momentum, after LeBron’s overtime heroics on Wednesday staved off a potential fourth loss in Cleveland’s past five games. As road games in Kyrie’s Boston and Russ’ OKC are forthcoming, the Cavs (31-22, 4.0 games ahead of the East’s 9-seed) might as well kickstart this road trip with a win streak. The Hawks might still get out-gunned tonight, but they won’t be out-manned. The only absences include future MARTA straphanger DeAndre’ Bembry, inactive since returning from a groin injury, and Tyler Cavanaugh, who will sit through the Break while rehabbing a tough ankle sprain he suffered up in G-League Erie. Everybody else is in decent shape for Atlanta (17-38), and trade-deadline holdout Marco Belinelli will be rested and ready to show NBA title contenders like Cleveland what they’ll be missing. The only intrigue for the Hawks will involve seeing whether Dennis Schröder can regain his resolve after getting the ShMackDown from former teammate Shelvin Mack late in last night’s game. While the Cavs’ roster is shallow, Calderon (4-for-5 3FGs vs. ATL on Dec. 12) and his help defenders will do what they can to get under Schröder’s skin and force another second-half short-hook from Coach Bud. The good news for Dennis (benched in the fourth @ CLE on Dec. 12) is that James will be needed more in the frontcourt and will spend less time creating mismatches at the point guard spot. Schröder will have to regularly and swiftly find Kent Bazemore (6-for-10 3FGs @ CLE on Dec. 12), Taurean Prince (8-for-10 FGs @ CLE) and whichever Hawk shooters spring open, of which there will be many, against Calderon, Korver, Thompson, Green, Smith and the G-Leaguers. Cleveland’s defensive woes won’t vanish right away. While Some Fans will have their eyes on one of the Hawks’ 2018 draft picks, there’s another one more likely to be impacted by tonight’s outcome. LeBron’s buzzer-beating jumper on Wednesday moved the Hawks’ Wolvespick (#25… man, another Adreian Payne deal would’ve been nice yesterday!) to within 1.0 games of where the Cavs reside on the Tank Rank, at #24. Another slip-up or two by Minnesota could scooch that Wolvespick up past not only Cleveland’s, but emerging Milwaukee’s. Considering that, you can forgive Some Hawks Fans for being doubly supportive of another “Nice Try” effort by the Hawks (no home wins vs. East foes since Dec. 27) in front of the home crowd. As for the folks showing up to The Highlight Factory in whine-and-gold tonight? Don’t mind them too much. They’ll probably be wearing #23 jerseys in wholly different colors this time next year. Let’s Go Hawks! ~lw3 View full record
  11. How does that Randy Newman song go? No, not I Love L.A., that OTHER one... ~lw3
  12. Okay, Cavs, slow down for a minute lol ~lw3
  13. I've heard about Bones of Contention... but geez! ~lw3
  14. “You’re just NOW finding out about Bobby Caldwell?” Dennis Schröder was about to have one of those quarters. He’s no Reggie Miller, but hey, seven points in 50 seconds! On the back end of a back-to-back, a tiring Knicks team was proving increasingly hapless trying to keep his layups off the glass. Their hard-earned fourth-quarter lead shrunk to a precarious two points. The Garden natives were getting restless. And at that moment, Mike Budenholzer recalled Luka Doncic’s 33 points versus Olympiacos. “Dennis! Come sit by me.” Such is life these days for Schröder and the Competitanking Atlanta Hawks, who will strive to stay close… but maybe not TOO close!... to the burgundy-hot Cleveland Cavaliers (7:00 PM Eastern, Fox Sports Southeast and 92.9 FM in ATL, Fox Sports Ohio). Dennis, and Taurean Prince, know the deal, though. If Coach Bud is benching you or chewing you out on the sidelines during stoppages of play, it’s only because he cares. He cares enough about you, at least, to know that you’re an integral part of his team’s future, and that how successful he becomes is tethered to how much you improve – as a playmaker, a defender, a floor leader, a team-oriented competitor – over time, and how well you sustain that improved play during games. So, don’t expect Schröder (career-highs of 20.4 PPG, 6.4 APG, and 49.3 2FG%) to come home and kick his hookah over getting yanked at critical junctures. Sure, he was 9-for-12 inside the perimeter on Sunday evening. But why was his counterpart, the shoulda-been Hawks backup Jarrett Jack, going 6-for-8 from the field for the Knicks and getting to the line with ease? Struggling as he might be, why is rookie Frank Ntilikina getting the most open three-point look he has seen in his young life? Neither Isaiah Taylor nor Malcolm Delaney performed even marginally better as a ballhandler, but that’s beside the point. Budenholzer wants to see his core starters applying tangible defensive pressure, and that wasn’t the case in Gotham. The Hawks induced just 12 team turnovers out of a previously frustrated New York team on Sunday evening, and Atlanta was outscored off turnovers 25-9. Dennis knows the deal, that he and Taurean (17 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists @ NYK) are getting the treatment Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili once suffered, and endured. If Bud’s not flinching at your errors and oversights, it’s probably because you’re not going to be around here for terribly long or, otherwise, because you’re out there Bazemoring. At the other end of the spectrum, one NBA team has been soldiering on without a former league MVP, and doing just fine, since it’s not the only one on their roster. The Cavs (19-8) won 13 in a row before incurring the Wrath of Oladipo last week. Having righted the ship, coach Tyronn Lue’s club is out to establish a whole new streak after outlasting Embiid-less Philadelphia on Saturday. Cleveland eked out the 105-98 win over the Sixers without either of Kevin Love (hip) or Tristan Thompson (calf). Both big men are likely to suit up tonight against the Hawks (6-20), playing enough minutes that Mr. Do-It-All, LeBron James (30 points, 13 rebounds, 13 assists vs. PHI), won’t have to live up to his MVP-worthy name. Love had 25 points and 16 boards (6 offensive) in the Cavs’ 121-114 win in Atlanta on November 30, allowing LeBron (24 points, 12 assists @ ATL) and his old running buddy Dwyane Wade (19 points, 3-for-5 3FGs, 4 steals off the bench) to give the Hawks something light. James will spend the evening deciding who he’d prefer to troll defensively, Schröder, or Ersan “Can’t Miss” Ilyasova (10-for-11 3FGs in past two games). Another well-intended target of Coach Bud’s short-hook, John Collins (shoulder) is healthy enough to take a pool dive in the snow for 400 bucks, but the Hawks’ brass wants him to get some practice in before returning to full competition. Johnny Bap will be right down the lakeshore from Quicken Loans Arena, in G-League Erie, making it tougher on the Hawks’ Ersan Ilyasova, Miles Plumlee and Tyler Cavanaugh to keep Cleveland out of the paint. Atlanta allows an NBA-high 14.2 second-chance points per-48. New York outscored Atlanta 50-44 in paint points during Sunday’s 111-107 win, a gap that was only widening before Schröder near-single-handedly popped the Knicks’ balloon. Dennis (27.5 PPG vs. CLE, most vs. any team played at least twice; 7.0 APG) has not had to keep up offensively with the likes of Cleveland’s Isaiah Thomas (hip, out for at least another week) or Derrick Rose (bone spurs, out maybe for good), and he doesn’t have Iman Shumpert (knee surgery) around to keep him from wrecking shop via dribble penetration. But with LeBron not having to pack the paint, and with Thompson back, Dennis will find the forest in front of the hoop to be a little thicker, so he’ll have to contribute in ways beyond collecting gotheems, especially on the other end of the floor. If Schröder plays his cards right, he’ll scare the bejesus out of the Cavs once more tonight. And at that moment, he’ll get his congratulatory sideline towel. And then, maybe we’ll get to see if Josh Magette can "provide a spark"! Let’s Go Hawks! ~lw3 View full record
  15. I read somewhere the Raps' G-League still hold his rights (in the G-League, natch). Is that true? EDIT: here it go, confirmation... ~lw3
  16. Charania with the ShamWow for the day. Watch his space. ~lw3
  17. It looks like LeBron and the Cavs realize T-Lue is all the "assistant coaching" they need. Did somebody say, "left hanging"? ~lw3
  18. “There can only be one King. Sorry, LeBron.” Another big bout in primetime! The Atlanta Hawks have done tremendously (and oddly) well this season with the whole world watching, on either TNT or the Four-Letter Network. It would be great if they can keep that run going tonight at the Highlight Factory, against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers (8:00 PM Eastern, 92.9 FM in ATL, Fox Sports South, ESPN, Fox Sports Ohio), leaving analysts in their predictable postgame mode: “What’s Gone Wrong with the Other Team?” Either way, I’d prefer tuning in to the local broadcast, as the 13th-leading scorer in NBA history provides his u-Nique blend of color analysis to the game featuring the 12th-leading scorer all-time. LeBron swapped places with Dominique Wilkins during last night’s easy-breezy victory over the Nyets. “It’s an honor,” James remarked postgame about moving up to 12th. “It’s great to be in that position.” Of course, he’s referring to scoring, not the standings. The Eastern Conference coronation hasn’t happened just yet for LeBron and his merry band of Cavaliers. Cleveland (53-22) sits just 2.5 games ahead of the Toronto Raptors, who just slowed the Hawks’ roll on Wednesday. They know they need not fool around with clinching the top-seed, as the sooner they wrap things up, the easier it will be for deposer-head coach Tyronn Lue to rest his veteran players. Clevelanders were kind of hoping they’d be cruising into April. But while last year’s conference top-seed had to literally break a leg to get anyone’s attention, this year’s banner-carriers could do without one show-stopping distraction after another. There’s LeBron, subject of the annual player option this summer, casually unfollowing his team on Instagram just days after a blowout loss in Miami, scrambling to re-follow the team (but not on Twitter! Dun-dun-dunnnn…) just as the ensuing freakout reached its fever pitch. There’s LeBron, practicing in preparation to win the gold in Rio 2016, but not medaling in men’s basketball, no… in the men’s synchronized coaching event. Given a rest against the Rockets on Tuesday, he showed up in a suit and then suited himself to coaching duties, mimicking his marionette Lue on the sideline and during a timeout. Owning the owner and serving as the de facto president of basketball operations apparently isn’t enough. I imagine David Blatt was entertained by the display. There’s LeBron, palling around with Dwyane Wade at halftime of that Miami game, fraternizing with his old teammate during the second-half shootaround while his Cavs were down 21 points. There’s LeBron, saying that, yes, he would love to “get a year in” alongside Carmelo Anthony, Wade, and Chris Paul before his career concludes. “We’ve had plenty of conversations” about building such a super-team, James asserts. I’m sure all of that just warms the cockles of Kyrie Irving’s heart. Speaking of Kyrie’s heart, there was even more social-media drama for yo baby mama this past week, as his starlet girlfriend was sepia-filtered in the arms of her former beau, some random musician who’s better at the “arts” of getting trending clicks and making people use caps-lock than anything else. After grabbing her V-Day sweets, she chose to break up with the player she called, last month, “the greatest boyfriend of all time,” and run back to her old flame, which is perfectly fine. Except, there’s this thing, that once you’ve gained six-digit followers on social media for posting every silly detail of your life, you have to kind of carry them along with you on your journey from one celebrity bed to another. Twitter panic ensued, whole Instagram accounts were deleted, pics were scrubbed, suicidal fears were detailed (back on Instagram, of course). It was quite a time to be alive. “It’s hard enough to win without worrying about a d@mn Twitter,” noted Lue. Even Anthony had to acknowledge that while his Knicks are up to their knees in Melo-drama, the drama over in Cavalier Country has been “more comical.” Irving is doing his part to get his team’s stories out of the supermarket cashier aisles and nail salons, and back in the sports bar. “Everything surrounding our team, (it) is just crazy to think that we’re still in first place and we’re still the team to beat, honestly.” Not leaving well enough alone, ESPN pressed for clarification from Kyrie that he meant “team to beat” just in the East, but Irving wouldn’t oblige. “I feel like we’re the team to beat,” Irving responded, including the likes of the Spurs and Warriors. To LeBron’s credit, he’s able to insulate his on-court play from his off-court play as well as anyone. That was demonstrated as he earned the most recent Eastern Conference Player of the Week honor, averaging 29.0 PPG, 8.8 APG and 8.5 RPG while shooting 56.4 FG% (45.5 3FG%). It’s quite possible that LeBron is engineering some of these non-issues to draw the media heat lamp away from his team’s more pressing problems on the floor. Among them… Tristan Thompson is getting paid $15 million to do what? Cleveland’s newest Iron Man feasted on the glass against the Hawks in the postseason of his contract year, and promptly made bank. Yet, while he leads the league with a 129.5 O-Rating thanks to his outstanding ability to clean up the glass (13.5 O-Reb%, 6th in NBA), his on-ball defense hasn’t improved. While it’s not just Thompson’s fault, Cleveland’s team defensive rating has been going in the wrong direction, from 101.1 to 104.2 since the All-star Break, and their opponents’ 61.1 at-rim FG% ranks in the mix with a lot of non-playoff teams. The Cavs force just 13.8 turnovers per 100 possessions, which is also bottom-ten in the league. To try addressing the defensive issues, Lue has been interchanging Thompson’s starting spot with Timofey Mozgov, who has just been sort of there all season. Thompson’s offensive skillset despite having a marginal defensive imprint is nice, but they’ve got that guy already, in Kevin Love and now Channing Frye. Speaking of which… Can Kevin Love play center adequately? Assistant coach Jim Boylan doesn’t think so. “Kevin at center just hasn’t been effective for us,” he told Zach Lowe of ESPN. But as the SB Nation Cavs site pointed out, Cleveland has been fantastic offensively (133.7 O-Rating, team 61.9 TS%) with Love plugged into the 5-spot, while being no more than the usual sieve at the other end. Boylan and Lue have also noted that the once-feared pick-and-roll play featuring Love and James doesn’t work well, since teams simply switch and the ball stops moving. What was the whole deal about picking up the pace? A big part of the sell-job in replacing Blatt with Lue was that the Cavs were going to run more. The post-Blatt pace is 95.97 possessions per-48 (26th in NBA), hardly a noticeable uptick from 95.47 under Blatt (28th in NBA). It can be a chore to bring vets like J.R. Smith and Richard Jefferson up to speed when they’ve grown accustomed to a certain tempo. Can they get some steadier play out of the bench? After apparently making a wrong turn along his way to an Aussie Rules Football game, Matthew Dellavedova is being relied upon more than ever. But he hasn’t shown many new wrinkles to his game (39.8 2FG%, 41.8 3FG%) aside from passing more often and improving his free throw shooting (85.2 FT%). Mo Williams started the season in place of Irving, but is only now rounding back into form after sitting to rest a swollen knee. Lue has fresher-legged options at his disposal, in Delly and Iman Shumpert, but is leaning on the likes of Jefferson, James Jones, and Frye more than he’d like. All of that said, in the mind of LeBron, there ain’t a problem that he can’t fix. But casting aside the James-less Cavs losing in Houston on Tuesday, there was the South Beach beatdown, and a road loss in Brooklyn last week, at the hands of Shane Larkin and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. A home loss to the remnants of the Grizzlies earlier this month was as bad optics-wise as anytime the Hawks were beaten by a shorthanded for. Fourth-quarter collapses included a 30-15 frame against Dallas, a game where the Mavs resurrected the ghosts of David Lee and J.J Barea, and 24-12 in Brooklyn after spotting the Nyets 59 first-half points. James, Irving, Love and company should not be working this hard, this late in the season, to be winning these types of games. The Hawks would relish that type of slippage over long stretches this evening. As for Atlanta (45-31), it’s fascinating that after a half-season of the team seeming to carry its star point guard, the roles apparently have switched. Jeff Teague led the way with 18 points in Toronto on Wednesday, making 8 of his 13 shots and doing his part to keep Kyle Lowry cool (17 points, but 2-for-15 2FGs, 5 TOs). But while Lowry (11 assists) had plenty of help from his supporting cast, Teague seemed to be the only starter willing to drive the bus for the Hawks. He’d have matched Lowry’s assist tallies easily if his teammates played with focus and finished plays without turning the ball over (18 player TOs @TOR, most since March 5). Kent Bazemore, Al Horford, Kyle Korver, and Paul Millsap were a combined 11-for-32 from the field. Bazemore, Korver, and Tim Hardaway, Jr. struggled to get open along the perimeter, and when they did, made just two of their eight attempts through the first three quarters. What good are wings without a feathery touch? To escape The Dime Trap tonight, Teague and Dennis Schröder need their shooting guards to live up to their position title and shift pressure onto Cleveland’s interior defenders. They’ll need Horford to make more out of his touches as well. It wasn’t until the final quarter, when Mike Budenholzer turned mostly to a quintet of Kirk Hinrich, Schröder, Tim Hardaway, and the Mikes (Scott and Muscala), that the pilot light finally came on, Atlanta chopping a 24-point cushion in half and forcing the Raptors to play Lowry and DeMar DeRozan much longer than they’d have preferred. Unlike the situation during last year’s conference finals, Thabo Sefolosha’s presence alleviates Paul Millsap of the dubious task of checking LeBron at the halfcourt line. Sefolosha’s sore ankle got plenty of rest in Toronto (12 irrelevant minutes of action) and Detroit (DNP-CD), and it will get even more recuperation time with three off days coming up. So Thabo should be spry and ready to give Bazemore and Millsap the help they’ll need, particularly when LeBron wants to break out in transition. Ultimately, this is shaping up to be another disappointing loss for the Hawks, who would fall to 2-9 against the league’s top six teams… April Fools! The Hawks took three of four from the Cavs last year, including three in a row, and it ultimately didn’t matter when the calendar turned to the postseason. Winning tonight only serves as a momentum builder, but that’s not the most important thing. A win tonight would not only pile onto Cleveland’s championship anxieties, it would help in the race to firm up a first-round homecourt situation for the Hawks. Despite the tough closing schedule on-paper, one thing the Hawks have working for them is that they’ve got more games in their pocket (76) than any playoff contenders that could catch them in the East. Each victory for Atlanta makes it extra hard for the teams in the 4-through-8 slots to keep up. And no win would be a better confidence-builder (and Twitter trender) than one in front of a ravenous crowd tonight. Let’s Go Hawks! ~lw3 View full record