The series involving No. 1 and No. 2 seeds in the Eastern Conference isn’t meriting the same discussion as the one in the West. The Hawks have been counted out in this year’s NBA playoffs before, and their conference finals against the Cavaliers is no different.
Even after 60 regular-season wins, the Hawks were doubted in the postseason. But now they’re looking to stop LeBron James from making his fifth-straight NBA Finals appearance.
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Here’s everything that you need to know for Game 1:
Who? The Hawks (60-22) increased their win total by 22 in head coach Mike Budenholzer’s second year as head coach, and they host the Cavaliers (53-29) who are back in the playoffs for the first time since James left Cleveland in 2010.
What, when and where? Game 1 of the Eastern Conference best-of-seven series; Wednesday, 8:30 p.m. ET; at Philips Arena in Atlanta.
Where can I watch? TNT will broadcast the entire series, with Marv Albert, Reggie Miller and Chris Webber on the call.
Key matchup: Young All-Star point guards Jeff Teague and Kyrie Irving will face off to create an exciting matchup in the backcourt. Both players are battling injuries in the playoffs but play huge roles for their teams. Irving is battling tendinitis in his left knee along with a strained foot, but he’s still averaging 19.8 points per game this postseason. Teague is coming off a nice stretch in the Hawks’ last series against the Wizards in which he averaged 20 points on 50 percent shooting in his last three games. Irving is a better 3-point shooter, but Teague is a better penetrator, especially with Irving’s injuries.
Full series schedule (all games at 8:30 p.m. ET on TNT)
Game 1 — Wednesday, May 20, Cleveland at Atlanta
Game 2 — Friday, May 22, Cleveland at Atlanta
Game 3 — Sunday, May 24, Atlanta at Cleveland
Game 4 — Tuesday, May 26, Atlanta at Cleveland
*Game 5 — Thursday, May 28, Cleveland at Atlanta
*Game 6 — Saturday, May 30, Atlanta at Cleveland
*Game 7 — Monday, June 1, Cleveland at Atlanta
That’s awkward: The starting five for the Hawks has combined to appear in seven All-Star games in their NBA careers, with Teague and Kyle Korver both making their debuts in 2015. In his 12 years in the league, James has appeared in 11 games by himself.
X-factor: When the Hawks beat the Cavaliers on March 6 and clinched the season series 3-1, they forced James to turn the ball over nine times. DeMarre Carroll guarded James and was part of the Hawks’ effective game plan that forced the former MVP to miss eight of his 13 shots from the floor. How the Hawks apply defensive pressure might be able to help them keep James in check once again.
How they got here: The Hawks took their first series against the Nets 4-2, and did the same t[……]
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