In their first two games of the new season, the Cleveland Cavaliers have given opponents everything they want on offense. The Cavs are 0-2 after surrendering 132 points to the Memphis Grizzlies, and 123 points to the Charlotte Hornets. Both the Grizzlies and the Hornets were fringe playoff teams last season that made modest improvements in the offseason.
The Cavs game against the Hornets will have ended less than 24 hours before the unusually early tipoff against the Hawks this evening. To further complicate matters, the Cavs leave Cleveland tonight for a 5-game road trip which includes four games on the west coast. It's still way too early in the season to be animated over a losing streak, but the Cavs could dig themselves in a deep hole if they do not win on their home floor tonight.
On Thursday night, the Hawks embarrassed the Dallas Mavericks 113-87. The already ultra-deep Hawks roster had Friday to heal up. Their injury report has Danilo Gallinari (left shoulder soreness) listed as questionable and Onyeka Okongwu (right shoulder injury recovery) listed as out. So hopefully, Lou Williams gets his first action of the season tonight.
Meanwhile, we are still waiting on an official injury report from the Cavs. Darius Garland missed Friday night's game against the Hornets due to an ankle injury, so we can assume he is at least questionable for tonight. If Garland doesn't play, that means veteran Ricky Rubio will start in his place again.
SI Sportsbook has the Hawks as 7.5 point favorites. That's a fairly big spread for an NBA game. I agree with the sentiment, as the Hawks should be heavy favorites and at the very least win outright tonight.
The Cavs' porous defense is a recipe for disaster against the Hawks. They are struggling to keep their head above water in the first week of the season. On the flip side, the Hawks are laser-focused on gaining home-court advantage for the playoffs. Even if Garland plays tonight, the Hawks should win this game and improve to 2-0 on the season.