Five things Cavs must do vs. Hawks
CLEVELAND — The Cavaliers begin their Eastern Conference semifinal vs. the Hawks Monday at The Q. Here are five things the Cavs should do to make quick work of the series:
1. Move that ball, baby
LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and the rest did a nice job of keeping things moving in the first-round sweep of the Pistons — for the most part.
There were occasional lulls and a once-in-a-while trend of settling for outside shots.
As has been the case all season, the Cavs are at their best when people look to make the extra pass.
2. Hit the boards, and then some
The Hawks aren’t overly big and they aren’t real physical. But they are scrappy and smart near the basket and the Cavs have to respect that.
Tristan Thompson, Kevin Love, James and even the guards will have to crash the glass — because giving a talented team such as the Hawks a second look at the hoop will almost definitely me harm.
3. Put the "D" in defense
Coach Tyronn Lue admitted the defense had slipped a bit since he took over in January. Sometimes, it’s slipped a lot.
But against the Pistons, the Cavs started to bend their knees and shuffle their feet again. That intensity will need to pick up even more in this round — as the Hawks’ biggest strength has always been their unselfishness and ability to find open shots.
4. Don’t panic
Things aren’t always going to go perfect. They never do. There are just too many games and the games are just too long for every moment to be the ultimate experience in teamwork and cohesion.
And that’s OK.
What the Cavs need to do, and have done a much better job of lately, is ride out the tough moments, the big deficits, the annoying breakdowns at both ends of the floor — and get back to doing what works.
The only time mistakes are bad is when you allow them to become repeated issues.
5. Have fun out there
It may sound silly, but it’s true. The Cavs just gotta have a good time.
They honestly look like world-beaters when they’re relaxed, smiling and taking true enjoyment from the competition.
No less than Cavs GM David Griffin would agree. He cited a lack of enjoyment as one reason, perhaps the biggest, for the coaching change.
Now, the Cavs seem to be more connected than ever. And that just needs to continue.
If so, bigger things will happen.