The Atlanta Hawks went into Cleveland on Friday night and came out with what was unquestionably their unlikeliest win of the season. The Cavaliers have not been playing their very best basketball of late (7-10 in the month of March, 29th in defensive efficiency since January 1), but they did enter this contest with a four-game win streak including an impressive blow out over the Boston Celtics on Wednesday night.
The Hawks were without all of their usual starters due to either rest or injury or some of both. Tim Hardaway Jr. was the only consistently regular rotation player that would participate in the game and he played a huge role in securing this victory. He literally closed this game out with an impressive 4th quarter including scoring or assisting on every Hawks bucket during an 18-5 run that would extend the Hawks lead from 7 points to 20 points in 3 minutes and 11 seconds of play.
There is not a lot of material here that is suitable for interesting analysis, but it can be a fun look back at the closing minutes of the Hawks win over Cleveland.
The Hawks are up 7 points here but with plenty of time and opportunity for the supremely talented Cavaliers team to come back and take control of this game. Lebron James gambles for a steal on this play and neither James nor Kyrie Irving demonstrate much sense of urgency. THJ punishes the gamble by sticking and open 3.
On this next play the Cavs demonstrate terrible transition defense. That combined with not having a rim protector on the court results in a largely uncontested dunk by THJ.
The Hawks secure the “team rebound” after a JR Smith missed 3-point attempt and THJ is able to push the ball ahead to Mike Muscala who had leaked out in transition. The result is another largely uncontested dunk.
At this point, the Hawks are starting to prioritize bleeding the clock before putting a shot up. As the shot clock winds down, THJ is in heat check mode and gets a kind roll on a deep 3-point attempt to basically start to put this game out of reach.
On the next two Hawks possessions, THJ would assist on a Malcom Delaney 3-pointer and then hit a mid-range jumper in the screen and roll action with Mike Muscala.
Note: Delaney had his first 3-point make in this game since February 6; he had gone 0 for his last 17 on 3-point attempts prior to this game.
THJ initiates the transition game here with a steal that ends up in the hands of DeAndre’ Bembry. The result is another wide open 3-point shot that THJ converts... the dagger and the shimmy. Enjoy!
The Hawks will see the Cavaliers again on Sunday afternoon. Cavs head coach Tyronn Lue has said that the Cavaliers will rest their key players after they potentially lock up the number 1 seed. But one has to be a little bit curious about that given that Lebron James has played an average of almost 42 minutes per game over the Cavs last 4 games and looked especially fatigued in this home loss to the Hawks. My best guess is that Lebron will sit on Sunday if the Celtics lose to the Hornets in their Saturday evening match-up.