February 25, 2024

The second round of the NBA playoffs is about to begin and the Cleveland Cavaliers are set to host the Atlanta Hawks. These two organizations clashed last postseason and the Cavs came out on top in a four-game sweep. The rosters are relatively the same, but the series has a different dynamic this year. Cleveland holds home court advantage and will also have a healthy Kevin Love. The Cavs won all three regular season matchups by an average of 9.7 points.

Offense vs Defense

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Cleveland’s fourth-ranked offense challenges Atlanta’s second-ranked defense. Per 100 possessions, the Cavs score 108.1 points while the Hawks allow 98.8 points per. During the regular season, Cleveland shot 36.2% from deep and Atlanta countered by holding opponents to 33.8%. This could be a deciding factor, however, Cleveland’s three point conversion rate has increased to 41.3% in the playoffs. It will be hard the stop them if they keep sinking threes at this rate.

3-Point Line

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This matchup features two of the best three-point shooting teams in the league. Cleveland ranked second with 880 three-pointers made and Atlanta, who connected on 815, ranked sixth. Each team has their prolific shooters in JR Smith and Kyle Korver. Smith shot 40% from long distance and Korver nearly replicated that with 39.9%. Despite those similarities, Smith sank 204 threes, finishing third in the East. Korver finished eighth with 158, tied with Kevin Love.

Love vs Millsap

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This could the matchup to watch for. Love turned it up a notch for the playoffs averaging 18.8 ppg and 12 rpg as opposed to his regular season numbers of 16 ppg and 9.9 rpg. The forward has notched four straight double-doubles and 35 throughout the season. Expected to oppose him is Paul Millsap. He can cover Love on the perimeter and is tough enough to guard him in the post. Millsap is a similar player as he will test Love’s defense by stretching the floor. The Atlanta forward is no push over and shouldn’t be taken lightly. He led the Hawks in major categories like points, rebounds, steals, and blocks.

Ultimately, Cleveland should have the edge in this series. Although all the signs look good, this will be another hard fought series.

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