The Atlanta Hawks will go with a smaller starting lineup against the Cleveland Cavaliers tonight with Jeff Teague, Devin Harris, DeShawn Stevenson, Josh Smith, and Al Horford. Kyle Korver (back) will be inactive as he continues to battle back spasms, and Anthony Morrow (thigh) will be a game-time decision. The Cavs probable starters are Jeremy Pargo, Dion Waiters, Alonzo Gee, Tristan Thompson, and Anderson Varejao. The backcourt defense should not be an issue considering Gee is an undersized small forward like Stevenson, but it seemed as though this might be a good opportunity to use the (very effective) big lineup featuring Zaza Pachulia at the five and Smith at the three. Varejao is the top rebounder in the league (by a lot) averaging an incredible 14.9 boards per game (Zach Randolph second at 13.2).
Horford will have a tall task to box out the big Brazilian and at least contain him, especially on the offensive glass (where he again leads the league with 5.8 orpg). Pachulia should expect to see big minutes, but it seemed like the gameplan could have been similar to when the Hawks faced off with the Pacers and Pachulia matched minutes with Roy Hibbert and limited him to just seven rebounds on the night. Also, Josh Smith has been incredible defending small forwards this year (limiting opposing SFs to a minuscule 3.1 PER against Smoove's D) and could have created a big mismatch in the post against the much smaller Alonzo Gee. However, Larry Drew has won six straight games and seems to have a good read of his team's capabilities, so I'll trust his judgement (although you better believe I'll ask him about it at his pre-game press conference at 6).