Cavs 93, Hawks 88
Overall it wasn't a pretty sight, but it's the kind of game that could become the rule and not the exception once the playoffs roll around. Every possession is precious and mistakes will kill.
This was one of those games as both teams were battling for playoff position of some sort. The Hawks: to solidify their third seed. The Cavs: to have homecourt advantage throughout the playoffs.
The Cavs won because they were better on the boards, out muscling the Hawks 55-36 even without two of their leading rebounders - Shaquille O'Neal and Anderson Varejao.
Once again the Cavs showed up in the fourth quarter, locking the Hawks down and taking a lead to close out the game.
There was some things to like in this one - the Cavs finally hit the 75 percent mark in free throws, hitting 21-of-28.
The rebounding was stellar.
Overall, however, some out there watching have to wonder why the Cavs cannot put teams away sooner.
Game: Cavs (60-16) vs. Atlanta Hawks (48-27)
TV: 8 p.m., ESPN Radio: WAKR (1590 AM); WTAM (1100 AM), WHBC (1480 AM).
Cavs: LeBron James (F); Antawn Jamison (F); J.J. Hickson (C); Anthony Parker (G); Mo Williams (G).
Hawks: Marvin Williams (F); Josh Smith (F); Al Horford (C); Joe Johnson (G); Mike Bibby (G).
Injured and inactive:
Cavs: Shaquille O'Neal (right thumb); Sebastian Telfair (ruptured groin) - OUT. Anderson Varejao (left hamstring) - game-time decision.
Officials: Greg Willard, Sean Corbin and Kevin Fehr.
The Cavs can nail their second-consecutive 60-win season tonight with a victory against the Hawks, something that is easier said than done.
Although the Cavs are 2-0 against the Hawks this season, beating them will be easier said than done this time around as Atlanta arrives at The Q with an 8-2 record in their last two games including wings against the Orlando Magic and Los Angeles Lakers, which was actually and old-fashioned thumping.
They'll likely come into Cleveland looking to prove that they belong among the NBA's elite teams. They do have some measure of inconsistency however, peppered in their recent games are losses to the Knicks and Philadelphia 76ers.
The Cavs are 9-1 in their last 10 games, but clearly have some things to work on - including their free throw shooting which has been abysmal the entire month of March. It's also clear that they miss the interior presence of Varejao and center Shaquille O'Neal. Zydrunas Ilgauskas' return should mitigate that a little bit, but he's never been known for having a strong interior defensive presence.
Of note: the last time the Hawks were in town, LeBron James lit them up for 48 points.