The Cavaliers have won two in a row and are coming off their best game of the season. Now comes the hard part. Meanwhile, the .500 Hawks sport the third best record in the East. That makes the Cavs just three games out of the third spot with 64 to go. But the only number that matters to the Cavs right now is one. That’s how many wins they can get Friday. Going to Atlanta and winning there would build the Cavs’ confidence immensely. Playing well and losing wouldn’t be awful, either. Getting blown out is a no-no. Basically, it’s games like these that give us a barometer of where the Cavs actually stand.
Venue: Philips Arena, Atlanta.
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TV/Radio: 7:30 p.m. EST, FOX Sports Ohio/WTAM
CLEVELAND CAVALIERS (6-12) C Andrew Bynum PF Tristan Thompson SF Alonzo Gee SG C.J. Miles PG Kyrie Irving
ATLANTA HAWKS (10-10) C Al Horford PF Paul Millsap SF DeMarre Carroll SG Kyle Korver PG Jeff Teague
• Korver needs a 3-pointer to set the NBA record for consecutive games with at least one. He’s now at 89 games. If he hits a three, the Hawks will hold an in-game acknowledgment.
• The Hawks were 27th (of 30) in attendance last season. This is a franchise that just can’t draw a crowd.
• Cavs coach Mike Brown on why the Eastern Conference is so bad: “I don’t know. But I like it.”
• The Hawks are coming off a win over the Clippers. The Clippers are in Cleveland on Saturday.
• During the last seven games, the Hawks have made 81 percent of their free throws (106-of-131). Carroll has buried 14 in a row and Teague 13.
• Millsap is averaging 21.0 points and 11.0 rebounds over the last three games. He is among a starting unit that averages a shade more than 32 minutes a night.
• Hawks radio play-by-play man Steve Holman is in his 29th season.
• When it comes to efficiency on offense, the Hawks are certainly up there. They rank fourth in the league in assists (24.1 per game), recording assists on 64.6 percent of their field goals. That second stat is tops in the NBA.
• Over the previous two games, Bynum is averaging 17.0 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 25 minutes.