The Atlanta Hawks have struggled on the road this season in the NBA. Currently, the Hawks are in the midst of a five-game losing streak on the road after their latest defeat in overtime to the Miami Heat. Tonight, Atlanta’s defense will be the key in order to get the job done against the Cleveland Cavaliers. During their five-game losing streak on the road, the Hawks are giving up an average of 111 points per game which is not a recipe for success. Atlanta needs to prove tonight that the team can win on the road with defense. In order to be successful in the playoffs, playoff teams need to be able to go on the road and steal a win from their opponent. The best way to win on the road is with defense. In the NBA, a team can have an off-night shooting, but one thing that can always be consistent every game is defense.
Atlanta should win the game tonight against the Cavaliers, but only if the defense shows up. Despite the bad record of the Cavaliers at 10-17, Cleveland still has the talent on the offensive end to get the win at home tonight. Kyrie Irving is one of the best scoring point guards in the league and provides a tough task for the Hawks tonight. Over his last seven games, Irving is averaging 26.6 points per game for the Cavaliers. The last time he played Atlanta, Irving did not manage to muster one point in the loss thanks to the defensive performance of Jeff Teague. Teague shut down the former NBA All-Star last time and will be asked to do the same tonight. It will be almost impossible to duplicate that kind of performance again, but if Teague can contain Irving the Hawks drastically increase their chances of winning tonight.
Andrew Bynum presents another challenge for the Hawks in tonight’s game. Bynum’s numbers are not that impressive this year for the Cavaliers, but the last time he played Atlanta Bynum posted 20 points and 13 rebounds. Al Horford cannot allow Bynum to enforce his will down low again because on Cleveland’s home floor there is no way Irving scores zero points this time around. Horford’s play down low on both ends of the court will be crucial tonight in order for the Hawks to achieve victory. If both he and Teague can get the job done defensively, Atlanta will snap their five-game losing streak on the road tonight in Cleveland. Atlanta is the better team, and with the possible exclusion of Dion Waiters for the Cavaliers the Hawks should win easily.