In what appears to be a fresh start, the Cavaliers (4-5) return home to play host to the Atlanta Hawks after snapping a four-game losing streak behind a historical, dominating 57-point performance by LeBron James. While game getting carried doesn’t imply much progress, the Cavaliers have shown more urgency over the past two games compared to previous seven. Tonight, they look to keep the momentum going, and we will keep the pindowns going.

  1. Another first quarter at home, another lethargic effort defensively for the Cavaliers. The Hawks haven’t even scored 30 points in a quarter this season, but they put up 37 (6-8 from deep) in the first 12 minutes in Cleveland.
  2. The Cavaliers didn’t get their first assist until over eight minutes into the game. The struggles on both ends of the floor in the first quarter were eerily similar to the losses suffered against New York, Brooklyn and Indiana.
  3. Jeff Green has been the main beneficiary to Tristan Thompson’s injury. Today, in place for the injured Iman Shumpert, Cedi Osman found non-garbage playing time in the second quarter. Coincidentally, his time on the floor was the best defensive stance for the Cavaliers. Then again, the bench has been more reliable to Cleveland than starters after nine games.
  4. It’s easy for fans to find Cleveland’s offense disorganized, but the Cavaliers understand they have something more special than sets: an incredible amount of intangibles. This recognition of their depth and talent allowed Dwyane Wade to pick apart Dennis Schroder, who had to sit half way through the second quarter from foul trouble.
  5. Wade has his best stint with the Cavaliers in the first half; he dropped 19 points in 11 minutes.
  6. J.R. Smith’s contributions on offense has dwindled to a decoy status. He’s currently posting career-lows in points, three-point percentage and steals. It seems when he commits to play-making for others, he tends to force fewer shots.
  7. The Cavs constantly made runs offensively, but the lack of adequate perimeter defense was appalling. Schroder went on a personal 13-0 run in the third quarter, all stemming from his ability to beat whoever the Cavs put on him off the dribble.
  8. It’s a common trend: the Cavaliers play up to their opponent, and unfortunately in a league with professionals, it translates to bad losses.
  9. Cavs must’ve caught or left something in Washington, because Sunday’s performance was completely underwhelming. When you give a team with nothing to lose hope, the basketball gods give you nothing to win.
  10. Still, what a finish. The Cavaliers fouled the right, inexperienced Hawk who missed both free throws, found Channing Frye for an open three on the following possession, Wade nearly tipped his miss for a game-tying put-back, but in the end it’s a 117-115 defeat.

The Cavaliers have now lost five teams with very little expectations heading into this season (Orlando, Brooklyn, New York, Indiana and now Atlanta). It’ll take above the bare minimum to beat anyone in this league. Next game, and thus next pindowns, will come to you Tuesday as the Cavs host the Milwaukee Bucks.