Game Preview: Cavaliers start four-game road trip against struggling Atlanta Hawks

Atlanta Hawks v Cleveland Cavaliers
Atlanta Hawks v Cleveland Cavaliers / Jason Miller/GettyImages

Another day, another victory. That has been the motto for the Cleveland Cavaliers over their last six games, but their coming road trip will be the true test of endurance.

The Cavs earned their sixth-straight win with a 135-95 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday. It would be Cleveland's first win over Milwaukee and its third of scoring 135 points or more this season. Cavs guard Donovan Mitchell finished the night with 31 points and seven assists. Bucks guard Damian Lillard led Milwaukee with 17 points and five assists.

Forward Georges Niang almost could not miss in the crucial win over the top-ranked team in the Central Division. The former Philadelphia 76ers and Utah Jazz forward hit 13 of his 14 shot attempts and five of his six tries from the 3-point line as he consistently found opportunities from the wings and in the paint. He ended the night with a career-high 33 points. After a slow start to the season, Niang holds averages of 50.5 percent from the field and 41.7 percent from beyond the arc over his last 10 games.

The Cavaliers will begin an important test on the road on Saturday

Cleveland must build off the momentum of its recent win streak to set the tone for what could be an important stretch of road games.

The Cavs will kick off a four-game road trip when they take to State Farm Arena to face the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday. The squad will pack its bags to take on the Hawks, Bucks and Orlando Magic this week before it faces the Los Angeles Clippers at home on January 29. Cleveland won its first two matchups with Atlanta this season, both at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. Cleveland has won 10 of its last 13 games since it claimed a home victory over the Hawks in December.

Mitchell notched 22 points and 13 assists in an eight-point win over Atlanta last month. Center Jarrett Allen added a 25-point, 14-rebound double-double. Forwards Isaac Okoro and Dean Wade played a vital role on the perimeter for the Cavs in their home win as they hit a combined seven of their 11 shots from 3-point range.

The Cavs have a 9-7 away record this season, an improvement from their 6-10 start on the road during the 2022-23 season. They would end their 2022-23 campaign with a 20-21 record on the road and two losses in Atlanta. The Cavs won four of their final five road games last season, including back-to-back wins over the Magic and the Brooklyn Nets. With their current six-game winning streak, building upon their improved road record would continue to elevate the Cavaliers in their chase for top positioning out East.

The Hawks have gone 4-2 in their last six matchups, winning their last three games against the Magic, San Antonio Spurs and Miami Heat. Atlanta has gone 12-19 against Eastern Conference opponents and 8-11 at home this season. As the Hawks approach the trade deadline as probable sellers, their uninspiring record at home may suggest an advantage for the Cavaliers before three consecutive games against top Eastern teams in the Magic and Bucks.

The Hawks defeated Miami in a 1-point victory at the Kaseya Center on Friday. Guard Dejounte Murray made a clutch 3-point shot to give Atlanta the lead with two seconds left. He would end the night with 22 points and 11 assists, leading the team in both categories. The former Spurs guard has averaged 20.3 points, seven rebounds and 5.3 assists per game over his last three matchups.

The Cavs have leaned into their 3-point shooting potential over their recent winning streak. They shot a league-leading 42.1 3-point attempts per game over their last 15 matchups, including 57 3-point shots in their win over the Chicago Bulls on Monday. Mitchell has attempted 9.5 3-point shots per game over the last 10 games, putting him ahead of Houston Rockets guard Fred VanVleet, Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson and Atlanta guard Trae Young over the same span.

Cleveland must continue to improve its perimeter shooting when it faces the Hawks on Saturday. Atlanta has allowed an opponent 3-point percentage of 38.3 percent this season, putting it on pace with the Toronto Raptors at about 25th place in the NBA. The Hawks' defensive rating of 119.1 puts them behind the Spurs, Warriors and Portland Trail Blazers at about 26th place in the league.

The Cavs will tip off against the Hawks at 7:30 p.m. EST on Saturday in State Farm Arena. The game will be broadcast on Bally Sports Ohio.

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