Dec 21, 2012; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers shooting guard Dion Waiters (3) reacts in the fourth quarter against the Indiana Pacers at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Cleveland Cavaliers Game Preview: Cavs vs. Hawks

On Anderson Varejao wig night at Quicken Loans Arena , the aforementioned Varejao will not play due to a lingering bone bruise. Tonight’s game against the Atlanta Hawks is a rematch of the November 30th game where Alonzo Gee hit a game winning shot in Atlanta. In that game, the Cavs were missing Kyrie Irving and still beat the Hawks, who currently sit at number three in Eastern Conference standings. Tip off for tonight’s game is 7:30, and will air on FSN Ohio and WTAM 1100 in Cleveland.
For the Cavaliers, this is game that will hard to win without Varejao. In the first game, Varejao scored 20 points and 18 rebounds while also nullifying Hawks star Al Horford down low. That advantage around the basket will be gone tonight with Tyler Zeller starting in place with Varejao. For the Cavaliers to win tonight, they will need to do two things: shoot above 50% and keep Josh Smith from going off. One advantage the Cavs will have tonight is having Irving in the lineup instead of Jeremy Pargo. That in itself will give a Cavaliers a big boost.
Atlanta, in my mind, is the most surprising team in the NBA this season. After losing Joe Johnson left for Brooklyn, the Hawks were expected to take a step back this season. But shockingly, they have been even better this season, and currently are only behind Miami and New York in the Eastern Conference Standing. Without Johnson, they have no real superstar that dominates the touches offensively. From time to time, Smith will go off and score in oodles, but as a whole they rely on solid defense and decent shooting. They also distribute the ball well, averaging 22.9 assists per game, which is good for 5th in the league.
Expect this game to be a tough one for the Cavaliers without Varejao in the lineup. Horford is better than both Tristan Thompson and Zeller, and should give the Hawks an advantage down low. But if the Cavaliers can shoot well and an keep Horford and Smith in relative check, they can win this game. The X-Factor here is Dion Waiters. A big game from him would go a long way in helping the Cavaliers pull another upset over the Hawks.

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Tags: Atlanta Hawks Cleveland Cavaliers Dion Waiters Kyrie Irving Tristan Thompson

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