Atlanta Hawks: 4 Keys to Victory vs. Cavaliers

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May 26, 2015; Cleveland, OH, USA; Atlanta Hawks guard

Jeff Teague

(0) and injured guard

Thabo Sefolosha

(left) react on the bench during the fourth quarter in game four of the Eastern Conference Finals of the NBA Playoffs at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Hawks have had Saturday’s contest against the Cleveland Cavaliers circled on their calendars since the NBA schedule came out a few months ago.

After falling to the Cavaliers in a disappointing fashion during last year’s Eastern Conference Finals, getting swept 4-0 in a chippy series, the Atlanta Hawks enter Saturday’s game preparing to avenge last postseason’s unceremonious defeat. The Cavaliers are currently first in the Eastern Conference with a 9-3 record, while the Atlanta Hawks enter the game with 9-5 record, good for third in the East.

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Saturday’s is sure to bring a level of intensity not seen since last year’s playoffs for the Atlanta Hawks. Though it is still early in the season, the ramifications of this game surpass the normal trappings of a regular season contest. The media still tends to believe that the Hawks were a fluke last season, and cannot replicate their success from a year ago. Though the Atlanta Hawks were swept in the Eastern Conference Finals, they did break through the ceiling that was previously the Eastern Conference Semifinals, and believe that the experience in the ECF last postseason was valuable, no matter the result.

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Of course, Atlanta was dealing with injuries during the ECF, with Kyle Korver missing most of the series after an out of control Matthew Dellavedova dove into Korver’s leg with reckless abandon while going for a loose ball. Thabo Sefolosha, arguably the Atlanta Hawks best defensive player, was out with a leg injury as well. DeMarre Carroll was hobbled after Game 1, and a controversial flagrant 2 foul against Al Horford led to an ejection in Game 3. What could have happened if these injuries and controversial calls not have happened? We’ll have a good chance to see on Saturday.

If the Atlanta Hawks can leave Cleveland with a victory on Saturday night, they will once again enter the conversation as a legitimate contender in the Eastern Conference. Getting a victory at the Q presents difficulty, but with a deep team and renewed sense of purpose, I believe that the Atlanta Hawks are fully capable of handing the Cavaliers their fourth loss of the season. Here are the keys to victory for the Hawks on Saturday night at Cleveland:

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