The Cleveland Cavaliers will return on Friday to start a three-game home stand against the Atlanta Hawks with COVID disabilities.
This year is the second of four meetings between teams. Cleveland won the 21-0 run, which began in the second half of the second quarter on October 23, with 101-95 when all five starters reached double digits. The game on December 19th has been postponed due to COVID and has not been rescheduled yet. Cleveland has won nine of the last 12 meetings, including two of the three in 2020-21.
The Cavaliers lost to Washington Wizards 110-93 on Thursday, dropping three of the last four games. Cleveland is still playing without three players participating in the Health and Safety Protocol, and the winning streak of 100 points in a row ended at 17.
The Hawks began a six-game road trip on Wednesday with a 131-117 defeat in Chicago. This was the Bulls’ second defeat in three days and three consecutive defeats. Atlanta, whose roster has been decimated by COVID, has dropped 10 of the last 14 times and dropped to 12th place at the NBA’s Eastern Conference.
“Three-quarters of the team are in the game,” said Atlanta Guard Trae Young, who has played two games since he missed three games at COVID. “I started shooting around without knowing most of my teammates.”
Young scored 26 points in his last match against Chicago, extending his 25+ points streak to 14 of his career’s best. He leads the league with 16 points-assisting double-double. Young scored 24 points against Cleveland at the first meeting.
Atlanta has 12 players on Wednesday’s match health and safety protocol, adding Chris Clemons and Cameron Oliver to the roster on a 10-day contract. Due to the lack of experienced players, Nate McMillan was forced to use Young, Cam Reddish, Clint Capela and Skylar Mays for extended periods of time to end the match.
“We really don’t have a submarine for them,” McMillan said. “Sometimes we have to put four or five guys out there who don’t know our system. We’re giving them a basic set.”
The Cavaliers regained Ed Davis, Dylan Windler and Lamar Stevens from COVID, but still lacked Cedi Osman and Darius Garland. Jarrett Allen is expected to be available for Atlanta.
The Cavaliers also don’t have Ricky Rubio, who injured ACL against New Orleans on Tuesday and missed the rest of the season. Cleveland made its first start on rookie Kevin Pangos on Thursday, but the team is looking for a veteran point guard, and ESPN reported that the Cavaliers are trying to win veteran Rajon Rondo from the Los Angeles Lakers.
“The make-up and personality of the guy you bring is very important,” said Cleveland coach JB Bicker staff. “I have to do my homework.”
Kevin Love continues to produce. He had 24 points and 11 rebounds against Wizards. In the last seven games, he has averaged 20.1 points, 8.3 rebounds and 2.0 assists.
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Cavaliers open home stand against unmanned Hawks
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