The Cleveland Cavaliers and Atlanta Hawks begin their second round series tonight on TNT. The Cavaliers come into this series having swept the Detroit Pistons while the Atlanta Hawks took care of the Boston Celtics in six games.
The biggest thing the Cavaliers need to do to win this series is get off to a good start and not let the Hawks believe they have a chance. If The Cavaliers win their opening two games in a dominant fashion with LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love all playing well, the Hawks may be in over their heads and not believe they have much of a chance of winning the series. The Cavaliers have more weapons than the Hawks and probably the best player on the planet in LeBron James. If the Hawks get punched in the mouth early, it might be too much for them to overcome.
As far as at the Hawks are concerned, they need to be patient and not panic when things get tough. They need to trust in each other and win by having a balanced attack led by Al Horford, Paul Millsap, Jeff Teague, and Kyle Korver. If all four of those guys get each other involved and all play well, the Hawks could have what it takes to upset the Cavaliers.
The Hawks have a really nice balance of inside-outside play that can give teams trouble. They have guards who can score from the perimeter, bigs who can rebound and score inside, and the ability to win in a variety of ways. They can pop threes; get to the line, etc.
However, the reality is that the Cleveland Cavaliers are the better team on paper and they've played like it all year. So long as LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love stay healthy, the Cavaliers will be the best team in the Eastern Conference. As a matter of fact, they won the Eastern Conference crown last season with Kevin Love injured and unable to play. The truth is that so long as they have LeBron James healthy, they'll be the team to beat in the Eastern Conference.
Ultimately, I have the Cavaliers winning this series in six games. I think the Hawks will win a couple of games in the series, but they won't take the Cavaliers to a Game 7. The Hawks certainly have the pieces to upset the Cavaliers, but the Cavaliers would have to really fall apart in order for an upset to occur. Barring a major surprise, the Cavaliers will win this series with relative ease.