The Atlanta Hawks (1-8) extended their NBA-most eight-game losing streak after another heavy 119-104 loss at home to the Houston Rockets. The Rockets built up an 18-point lead over the Hawks in the first half and never looked back. Kent Bazemore had 18 points to lead the Hawks, while Dennis Schroder and Taurean Prince added 16 points apiece.
Meanwhile, the Cleveland Cavaliers (4-5) ended a four-game losing skid in a big way against the Washington Wizards. LeBron James exploded with a season-high 57 points with 11 rebounds and seven assists to lead the previously struggling Cavs. Derrick Rose had 20 points while Jae Crowder added 17 points and seven assists.
Three keys to the game
Motivation – James delivered one heck of a performance to prevent his team from dropping a fifth game in a row against a top team like the Wizards. But the question now is whether he will be up for this game against Atlanta.
Cavs supporting cast – The other question is if the Cavs even need James to take care of the Hawks. Even if LeBron isn’t quite at full capacity, the Cavs should have more than enough to get an easy win at home. That is, if the rest of the supporting cast show up and play to the level they’re capable of.
Hawks firepower – Atlanta are dead last in the East for a reason: they just can’t score enough points. Apart from Schroder, Prince, and Bazemore, they don’t have anyone who can put points on the board consistently enough. They should find it easier against a lax Cavs defense, but they’ll need big-time performances from their bench to leave Cleveland with a win.
Matchup to watch
Taurean Prince vs LeBron James – Prince has had a promising start to the season offensively. He’s put up at least 16 points in five of his last six games. However, he’ll have his hands full defensively against James, who will be close to unstoppable if he’s fully focused.
Hawks projected starting lineup
PG – Dennis Schroder | SG – Kent Bazemore | SF – Taurean Prince | PF – Mike Muscala | C – Dewayne Dedmon
Cavaliers projected starting lineup
PG – Derrick Rose | SG – JR Smith | SF – LeBron James | PF – Jae Crowder | C – Kevin Love
Schroder and Prince are the Hawks’ two most consistent producers fantasy-wise. They’ll be expected to carry a significant portion of the load offensively, and given the Cavs’ propensity to lollygag defensively this season, they should have a decent shot at putting up good numbers.
James and the Cavs aren’t about to waste all the positive momentum they built up from the Wizards win. Look for them to take care of business at home at handle the Hawks comfortably to cover the 12.5-point spread.
The Cavs score the big 118-101 home win.
This game will be broadcast on Fox Sports Ohio and Fox Sports Southeast. Tip-off at Quicken Loans Arena will be at 3:00 pm Eastern.
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