1 Stud and 1 Dud for the Cavs in their loss to the Hawks

Dean Wade, Cleveland Cavaliers and Trae Young, Atlanta Hawks. Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images
Dean Wade, Cleveland Cavaliers and Trae Young, Atlanta Hawks. Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images /

Cleveland has pretty good timing when it comes to throwing All-Star parties.

The 1981 All-Star game featured a myriad of NBA/ABA talent (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Julius Irving, Tiny Archibald, Moses Malone and Larry Bird) while 1997’s festivities coincided with the celebration of the NBA’s 50 best players of all time. 25 years on and Cleveland is once again hosting All-Star weekend alongside a new anniversary list – the 75 greatest players of all time.

Zoom in and the timing of such a dominant Wine and Gold season is equally impressive. Few expected this team to be outside the lottery, much less two games below the first seed in the East while also sporting the conference’s second-best SRS (schedule adjusted point differential).

The league has noticed too. Darius Garland and Jarrett Allen will be representing this Cavalier team in the main event on Sunday while Evan Mobley and Isaac Okoro will participate in the Clorox Rising Stars game. An MVP award this weekend would be the perfect complement both for this season and All-Star history in Ohio. It’s an exciting time for the Cavs before resuming their push for the 2022 playoffs.

With the excitement of All-Star Weekend in Cleveland building, the loss to the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday doesn’t hurt as bad

Wednesday’s 124-116 loss to the Hawks in Atlanta therefore could be viewed as a bit of a limp to the All-Star break finish line. It was their second loss in a row for the first time since December. Prior to these losses, the Cavs were 8-2 in their last 10, however, the Hawks triumphed using a balanced attack behind a dominating performance by Trae Young. They now lead the season series 2-1.

Cavs Stud: Darius Garland

The highlight of Wednesday’s action was surely the battle between Darius Garland and Trae Young. While Young (41 points) and the Hawks came out on top, the All-Star reserve was right there with 30 points (12-22 FG) and 8 assists for a -2 in 35 minutes. Garland had answers for every coverage type the Hawks threw at him, including his crazy drive against a hesitant switch above.

His passing cut through the help that was sent his way while also exposing Atlanta’s schematic confusion at times and Young’s general defensive limitations. DG the PG continues to justify his All-Star selection and the matchup with Young is surely one of the most exciting future positional battles in the NBA.

Cavs Dud:  Isaac Okoro

Despite his defensive chops, Isaac Okoro’s high foul rate has continued in his second campaign. Per Cleaning the Glass (subscription required), Okoro is in the 28th percentile at his position for fouls committed – 3.8% fouls per team play. ‘Ice’ fouled out in just 26 minutes on Wednesday night with five of them coming against – you guessed it – Trae Young. I went back and looked at each one:

Foul #1 – 4:31 left in the 1st quarter: Okoro was over-aggressive with Young who caught him bodying Trae close to half court.

Foul #2 – 2:06 left in the 2nd quarter: Okoro was a little high on Huerter’s screen for Young who went away from the pick and caught Ice’s recovery from behind the play for a shooting foul. Young sold it but it was a clear foul.

Foul #3 – 11:17 left in the 3rd quarter: Okoro did well to chase Young through a screen but his momentum was once again used against him with Trae fouled on a floater in the paint.

Foul #4 – 5:21 left in the 3rd quarter: Okoro was once again a little too high and aggressive on the pick as Young went away from Love’s blitz and caught Okoro off balance.

Foul #5 – 3:57 left in the 4th quarter: Okoro fouled Young before contact with the screen. Trae caught him being too high before the screen had come from Hueter.

Foul #6 – 1:05 left in the 4th quarter: An offensive foul ruled against Okoro after a challenge by the Hawks.

Next. 3 buyout candidates for the Cavs to consider signing. dark

I was hesitant putting Okoro here as a ‘dud’ due to the assignment he had but this is the NBA and he needs to be better as one of the Cavs’ most important defenders. In three games now, Young has drawn 16 free-throw attempts against Okoro per NBA.com. Balancing aggression with team strategy continues to be a development point for him. Ice now gets a chance to unwind a little and be a part of the All-Star festivities. It’s party time in Cleveland!