Game 31: Cavs at Hawks
Radio: WTAM-AM 1100, WMMS-FM 100.7, La Mega-FM 97.7
TV: Fox Sports Ohio
1. Everything changed before the game when the Cavaliers announced that forward LeBron James wouldn't play because of persistent pain behind the left knee. There's no word yet on whether he'll play against Milwaukee on Wednesday.
2. The Cavs certainly didn't fold, however, without their floor leader. They played with intensity and spunk, something that was missing in the Detroit game last Sunday. They've got to play this way every night.
3. The Cavs have now lost two in a row, as well as three of the last four. This group is just five games above .500. This has to be the most under performing team in the league. Milwaukee is biting at their heels in the Central Division. Don't be surprised if they catch them. The Bucks invade The Q on Wednesday in a New Year's Eve game.
4. Guard Kyrie Irving led all scorers with 35 points. The All-Star point guard missed the previous two games with a bone bruise in his left knee. It's something that everyone should keep their eye on. He originally injured it in the Oklahoma City game two weeks ago, but continued to play on it. He played his heart out against the Hawks. He dished out nine assists, but turned the ball over eight times.
5. The Cavs lost power forward Kevin Love in the second half with back spasms. He was having a horrible game when he left. He made 1 of 8 from the field. He finished with seven points and seven rebounds. He's getting half his shots blocked at this point and has absolutely no lift on his shots. When I saw him play in Minnesota, he used to have a deadly jump hook in the lane. I have no idea where that shot has gone.
6. I really don't want to pick on Matthew Dellavedova, but he's playing terrible basketball right now. He can't shoot and just isn't making an impact. Part of it has been that he's been in the starting lineup, where he doesn't belong. He's not a starting-quality guard in this league. His field-goal percentage has dipped to 30.7 percent.
7. The Hawks have won four in a row over the Cavs at Philips Arena. Atlanta has climbed to within one game behind Toronto as the top seed in the Eastern Conference. It's not by accident. They are well-coached, play hard, defend and have balanced scoring.
8. Gosh, I loved the minutes the Cavs got from veteran James Jones. He ended with nine points, three rebounds, two assists, three steals and two blocks. Play the guy!
9. Speaking of a player that needs regular minutes, it's rookie shooting guard Joe Harris. He finished with a career-high 13 points against the Hawks. It's not like any of the guys ahead of him in the rotation are any better.
10. The Hawks played without starting center Al Horford, who was sick. UP NEXT: vs. Milwaukee, Quicken Loans Arena, 7 p.m. Wednesday
C Tristan Thompson (6-10, 238) vs. Pero Antic (6-11, 250)
Hawks - F Adreian Payne, G John Jenkins