The Cleveland Cavaliers played the Atlanta Hawks tonight, Dec. 23rd, looking to extend their win streak to three games and sweep their home stand. The major story lines coming into the game was if the Cavs could hinder the play of Atlanta’s star PG, Trae Young and the return of John Collins. Before the game even started, the Cavs took a hit to their bench as it was reported that the Utah Jazz agreed to a trade, exchanging Dante Exum for Jordan Clarkson.
It was a back and fourth start to the game as the Cavs came out swinging, runing the offense through their All-Star Kevin Love. Love drilling a few jumpshots, and Matt Dellavedova facilitating good offense from the bench helped the Cavs raise the lead to 11 points late in the 1st quarter. The second unit seemed not to miss a beat early even with missing Jordan Clarkson, yet defensive struggles hindered them from pulling away big
The Hawks made quick adjustments in the start of the 2nd quarter, cutting their deficit down to single digits. The Cavs scoring did not catch up as fast in the first quarter, and Atlanta took advantage cutting the lead down to 2 and continued to put pressure on the Wine and Gold. However, Love and Sexton kept the pace up and made sure that the lead never disappeared fully. Collin, Kevin and Cedi Osman finished the first half in double figures for scoring, with no Cavs’ starter having a negative plus/minus. The Cavaliers finished the half strong, 71-64
The second half started similarly to the 2nd quarter, as the Hawks came out faced paced, and the Cavs not wanting to catch up, once again trimming the lead and eventually taking the lead around the 8:30 mark in the 3rd quarter. The Cavs kept it within striking distance, as Vince Carter made his presence felt in the game, making a 3 pointer and swatting a Kevin Love jump shot to the crowds delight. As the 3rd quarter wound down, the Hawks drove up to a 4 point lead. But Matt Dellavedova and John Henson continued to make their presence felt on defense causing turnovers. The game was tied heading into the 4th Quarter at 94 a piece.
Kevin Porter Jr. led the charge early for Cleveland in the 4th, drilling a step-back 3 and causing a turnover. The young core for Cleveland continued to lead the team to pull away with the lead, with big buckets from Darius Garland and Kevin Porter Jr. The Hawks looked like they were starting to run out of gas as time rolled on and the window began to close. Garland and Porter kept the pressure up on offense, while Tristan Thompson and Brandon Knight caused disarray on the defensive end, growing the lead back to double digits. Kevin and Darius had scored every point for the Cavaliers in the 4th quarter until the 5 minute mark, combining for 18 points from the rookie duo. The Cavs didn’t let up on the gas, and continued to lead until the end of the game. Kevin Porter Jr. finishes with 15 points, Darius Garland with 21, and Colin Sexton led the team with 25.
Final Score: Cavaliers 121, the Hawks 118