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Cavalier Challenge Week 2: Cavs Must Prepare for Atlanta’s Versatility

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The Atlanta Hawks do everything really well; Not too incredible or flashy and not terribly and casually. They are incredibly balanced with their starters and reserves respectively because everyone knows their roles well. Jeff Teague controls and runs their offense at the Point Guard spot. He has improved every aspect of his game every season he’s been in the league, and is now considered to be among the Top 10 point guards in the NBA. On the season, Teague is averaging just under 16 points and 8 assists a game organizing the show for the Hawks. He’s done a very good job of it as he will need to be kept outside the paint and more around the 3-point line. Don’t let his 43% shooting on the season fool you; he’s simply too good when driving to the basket, has improved immensely as a passer, and has developed a solid enough mid-range jumpshot that could run the Cavalier defense in circles at times.

Kyle Korver is an absolute sharpshooter and a scorer who cannot be given any open looks. Mostly known for his 3-point shooting and the 127-game streak with at least one made 3, Korver is at it again averaging an insane 3.7 3-pointers per game, having knocked down 22 threes through the first 6 games of the young season. Once a defensive liability, Korver is also averaging just under a steal a game, but leads the NBA’s guards in blocks per game at 1.2, making him a strong all around player that the Cavaliers have to stick with. Meaning that, most times, the Cavaliers cannot afford to leave Korver on the wing or the corner and go help on a drive because that is exactly how he makes his living. Forcing him to dribble excessively to get the ball out of his hands is what Cleveland has to do to render him less effective.

{adinserter 2}At the small forward spot is DeMarre Carroll, who is mostly relied on for his solid defense on wing players and even point guards. He is a scrappy player who doesn’t have many, if any, plays run for him on offense, but still manages to score 12 points a game with almost 2 threes a game. Just like Korver, forcing Carroll to dribble and drive will cause him to be a less useful on offense.

The All-Star power forward for the Atlanta Hawks is Paul Millsap, who is coming off of a career year where he averaged highs across the board with fellow frontcourt-mate Al Horford out with an injury. Last year, at 18 points, 8.5 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, and a block a game, Millsap earned his first ever All-Star appearance. He does everything well for the Hawks and is seemingly everywhere on the defensive end as well. Although he’s developed a very solid jumpshot, the Cavaliers have to keep forcing him to shoot outside jumpers rather than driving in to the basket, where he is most effective and creative.

The big man in the middle is the 2-time All-Star, Al Horford. Coming off a complete tear in his right pectoral muscle that kept him out the entire year, Horford has started off the year very strong averaging 14 points, 8 rebounds, and almost 2 blocks in 31 minutes. The Hawks have certainly missed Horford, as he was a dominant inside presence that could shoot from as far as 20 feet before his shoulder injuries. He has always been a 19 point- 10 rebound player, but his effect goes beyond his statistical averages. Horford’s ability to decently guard the perimeter off of switches and centers makes him a tough matchup on both sides of the ball. Anderson Varejao, who he’s likely to be matched up with, will have to be as active as ever to get Horford running around guarding the pick and roll.

The Hawks bench is also solid as they can provide both a scoring punch from Mike Scott and Dennis Shroder, but can be led defensively by Thabo Sefolosha. All in all, Cleveland will definitely have its work cut out for them as they face a tough, all around team in the Atlanta Hawks Saturday night at the Q!

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