Cavs vs. Hawks, Game 82
at Philips Arena
TV: Fox Sports Ohio
WHAT HAPPENED: The expected return of center Shaquille O’Neal, who has missed the last 23 games of the regular season after having right thumb surgery, didn't happen. Cavs coach Mike Brown just didn't want any of his frontline players getting hurt.
So, Shaq is heading into the Bulls playoff series - Game 1 could start at 3:30 p.m. Saturday, an industry source said - having not played since Feb. 25.
He looked very strong in practice on Tuesday. Perhaps he can step right in and pick up where he left off. But he's probably not going to have much rhythm.
The Bulls (41-41) present a lot of potential matchup problems for the Cavs.
"They are athletic," Brown said. "They play a lot of pick-and-roll. They are a good drive-and-kick team. We’ll have to be ready for that."
Brown said this year's team is a much different than last year's 66-win team.
"I like the versatility of our team," Brown said. "We can go small. We can go big. We can go quick."
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LONG-RANGE SHOOTING: When you take Mo Williams out of the lineup, that affects their outside shooting drastically.
Maybe that's why they were 1 for 14 from behind the arc in the loss to the Hawks. Forward Jamario Moon connected from long range in the late going to avert the shutout.
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FRIENDS AND FAMILY: J.J. Hickson had a boatload of friends and family at the game. He said he didn't know how many were at the game. He prepped at Marietta, Ga.
Hickson was one of the few bright spots against the Hawks with 14 points and six rebounds.
Hickson will move to the bench when Shaq returns. It’s unfortunate because the second-year forward has played admirably in the starting lineup.
"I’m willing to do whatever it takes to win," he said.
Hopefully, he won’t go in the tank. His minutes might be cut, too, since Brown will want to keep Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Anderson Varejao together on the second unit.
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FACE TIME: I'll be appearing on More Sports & Les Levine on Thursday night on Time Warner Cable.
Also, I'll be on WELW on Friday morning.
SF Jawad Williams (6-9, 220) vs. Marvin Williams (6-9, 240)
PF Antawn Jamison (6-9, 235) vs. Joe Smith (6-10, 230)
C J.J. Hickson (6-9, 242) vs. Zaza Pachulia (6-11, 275)
SG Anthony Parker (6-6, 210) vs. Mario West (6-5, 210)
PG Delonte West (6-3, 180) vs. Jeff Teague (6-2, 181)
Cavs – C Shaquille O'Neal (right thumb surgery), G Daniel Gibson (personal matter), F LeBron James are out.
Hawks – G Jamal Crawford (sore right toe).
Dick Bavetta, Tony Brothers, Tony Brown