PREVIEW: Cleveland Cavaliers, losers of 10 straight, seek win vs. Atlanta Hawks

By Field Level Media
Feb 21, 2021; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers guard Collin Sexton (2) drives to the basket against Oklahoma City Thunder guard Theo Maledon (11) during the second quarter at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Hawks, no stranger to adversity themselves, will try to add to Cleveland’s misery when they visit the Cavaliers on Tuesday.

Cleveland has lost 10 straight after Sunday’s 117-101 loss to Oklahoma City. Atlanta beat Denver 123-115 on Sunday and has won two of its past three, but has lost five of its last seven.

Related: If you’re a fan of the Cavaliers, check out #BeTheFlight rumors, rankings, and news here.

The Cavs defeated Atlanta in their only meeting 96-91 on Jan. 2.

The Cavaliers continue to be beset by injuries and issues as Larry Nance Jr. (left hand fracture) and Taurean Prince (left ankle soreness) remain out.

Kevin Love, who hasn’t played since Dec. 27 because of a right calf strain, had a setback and was held out of team drills on Saturday after experiencing soreness. Matthew Dellavedova, who was close to coming back from a concussion that’s kept him out all season, needed an appendectomy on Saturday.

Guard Collin Sexton, who averages a team-leading 22.9 points, said the injuries are causing a problem on defense.

“On offense we’re fine,” he said. “It’s defense. It’s as simple as that. If we get stops, we’re able to run and play our game. (The Thunder) scored 117 points and that’s way too much.

“Think about how good (we) were doing before some of the injuries. We were playing crazy defense, giving up our bodies and flying around. We’ve got to get back to that and once we do it’ll be fun to play.”

It doesn’t help that the Cavs have decided to not use Andre Drummond (17.5 points, 13.5 rebounds) while they look to trade him.

Cleveland is trying to unload Drummond to give more playing time to Jarrett Allen, who has been playing at a high level. He had 26 points and 17 rebounds against the Thunder for his fourth straight double-double.

Allen could be an interesting matchup with Atlanta’s Clint Capela, who shut down Denver’s high-scoring Nikola Jokic on Sunday. With Capela guarding the rim, Jokic was limited to three points in the first half and only 15 points overall — 11.6 points below his season average.

Related: If you’re a fan of the Hawks, check out #TrueToAtlanta rumors, rankings, and news here.

Capela has given the Hawks an inside presence the team has lacked for years. He is averaging 14.9 points and a league-leading 13.9 rebounds. He had 22 points and 10 rebounds against Denver for his 20th double-double.

Atlanta’s Trae Young scored 35 points against the Nuggets, his 11th time this season to score at least 30. Young has periods where he takes over a game. In the third quarter he had 14 points and five assists and had a hand in 25 of the team’s 29 points.

Atlanta coach Lloyd Pierce is expected to return to the bench. He has missed the past three games — the first two because of the birth of his second child and another for health and safety protocols. Pierce sent interim head coach Nate McMillan a text message regarding second-half adjustments against the Nuggets.

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McMillan said, “I thought we did a better job of understanding time and score situations, getting stops when we needed to, making baskets, knocking down shots when they were making a run.”

–Field Level Media