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ATLANTA HAWKS 8- 5 AND CLEVELAND CAVALIERS 8-3

The Cavs host the Hawks in this Eastern Conference Finals rematch. The ECF was a fiery sweep that had the Hawks complaining about Aussie guard Matthew Dellavedova’s floor diving antics, which incurred an ankle injury to sharp-shooting Kyle Korver that forced him to miss the rest of the series.

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The Hawks claimed it was an intentional tactic and Hawks center Al Horford dealt with it by swinging an elbow towards Delly’s head, which forced the refs to ejected him from the game. On closer inspection one could argue that Horford pulled Dellavedova down, so don’t think for a second that Delly has forgotten about it.

Cleveland and Atlanta are both good teams on offense (the Cavs are currently fifth and the Hawks are eighth in Offensive Efficiency), and both are pretty solid on defense (the Cavs are eighth and the Hawks are 14th in Def Eff), but where Cleveland have the strongest advantage is on the boards. So far this season the Cavs have been getting 4.2 more rebounds per game than their opponents (which ranks sixth in the league), while Atlanta are getting 5.0 rebounds less than their opponents (27th in the league). While the sample size is small, this is a big concern for Atlanta, who match up pretty well with Cleveland otherwise.

Both of these teams are in the bottom half of the league in terms of pace. The value of each possession becomes even more valuable for slower teams, which makes securing rebounds even more important. Horford, Paul Millsap, and Tiago Splitter will have to really put work in on the boards in order to have a chance against this Cleveland team who have been without star guard Kyrie Irving all season.

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