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Preview: Hawks square off with Cavs before returning home

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One more before the new arena opens.

NBA: Cleveland Cavaliers at Atlanta Hawks Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The start of the 2018-19 NBA season hasn’t been particularly kind to the Atlanta Hawks and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Both teams opened the season with back-to-back defeats and, while neither offense was dominant by any means, defense was the central issue for both clubs.

On Sunday evening, the Hawks and Cavaliers will face off in Cleveland and, for Atlanta, this represents the final stop on a three-game road trip to begin the campaign. Beyond the implications of a simple win and loss for both teams, the Hawks will be particularly interested in the Cavaliers throughout the season, as Cleveland owes a top-10 protected 2019 first round draft pick to Atlanta. With that said, there are match-ups to monitor with the confines of this 48-minute affair.

Trae Young and Collin Sexton square off in a battle between the top two point guards in the 2018 NBA Draft and that is certainly a headliner. Young’s field goal percentage (37.5 percent) will draw headlines in a negative sense, but the rookie guard from Oklahoma has been tremendous in the floor game, averaging 17 points, seven assists and four rebounds per contest. Sexton hasn’t been as potent (albeit in fewer minutes) but there will be some sweeping conclusions drawn from this individual match-up, for better or worse.

Elsewhere, it will be interesting to see how Atlanta’s rotation shapes up in this spot, as the injury report is jam-packed for the visiting team. John Collins, Dewaye Dedmon, Justin Anderson and Daniel Hamilton remain sidelined and, given the context, that isn’t a surprise. However, rookie big man Omari Spellman (ankle) was upgraded to questionable in this game and a quartet of players (Young, Vince Carter, Tyler Dorsey and Alex Poythress) are listed as probable in this game.

The good folks in Las Vegas install the Cavaliers, playing at home, as 7-point favorites in this game but, much like the first two contests, this is a theoretically winnable contest for the Hawks, even on the road. Stay tuned throughout the day for all the latest.

Game Info

Game Date/Time: Sunday, Oct. 21, 6:00 pm ET

Location: Quicken Loans Arena

TV: Fox Sports Southeast

Radio: 92.9 The Game (Atlanta); Hawks Radio Network

Streaming: Fox Sports Go; NBA League Pass (out of market)