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Hawks vs Cavaliers preview: Atlanta looks to steal Game 1

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The Atlanta Hawks will try to put the pressure on the Cleveland Cavaliers early when the two teams meet in the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.

Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Hawks and Cleveland Cavaliers meet in the Eastern Conference semifinals Monday night with Game 1 at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. The series is a rematch of last season's Eastern Conference Finals where the Cavaliers swept the Hawks in four games.

While the same two teams will meet again, both are a bit different than last year's version. By the time Cleveland faced Atlanta they had lost Kevin Love to a shoulder injury for the remainder of the playoffs. Kyrie Irving went down with an injured kneecap in Game 1 and that left LeBron James to do most of the heavy lifting in the series.

The Hawks entered the playoffs without Thabo Sefolosha and with an ailing Paul Millsap. DeMarre Carroll suffered a knee injury late in Game 1 and by the end of Game 2 they had lost Kyle Korver for the remainder of the series due to a broken ankle and played the second half of Game 3 without Al Horford who was ejected after getting tangled up with Cleveland's Matthew Dellavedova.

Cleveland last played a week ago when they defeated the Detroit Pistons 100-98 in Game 4 to complete a first round sweep. Kyrie Irving led the way for Cleveland averaging a series-best 27.5 to go along with 4.8 assists. James wasn't far behind stuffing the stat sheet to the tune of 22.8 points, 9.0 rebounds and 6.8 assists.

Atlanta needed six games to close out the Boston Celtics ending the series with a 104-92 win in Boston last Thursday. That gave the Hawks a bit of time to recoup but not so long to get rusty. They are coming into the second round series confident and they will need it against a Cleveland team that has defeated them seven straight times including the playoffs last season.

Game Info

Game Date/Time: Monday, May 2, 7 p.m. ET

Location: Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, Ohio

TV: TNT

Radio: 92.9 "The Game" FM