1) Jeff Teague Staying Aggressive
One of the bright spots for Atlanta in Game 1 was their starting Point Guard. Jeff Teague played like a man on a mission. He had 27 points (11-24 shooting) and kept aggressively driving to the basket. Teague has had his struggles for most of the postseason, but Game 1 in the Eastern Conference Finals was an exception. I usually mention that if Teague plays well, the team does well. He is the engine that can fire up Atlanta, and the Hawks better hope their starting point guard can bring it in Game 2. If Teague can keep up the intensity, the Hawks can tie the series against the Cavs.
2) Atlanta has to boxout Mosgov and Thompson
Cleveland dominated Atlanta on the boards in Game 1. The Cavaliers big men were a force in the paint, especially rebounding the basketball. Cleveland starting Power Forward, Tristan Thompson, racked up five offensive boards in the game. The other front-court player, Timofey Mosgov, brought down 11 total rebounds, four being on the offensive end. The best team in the Eastern Conference were out-rebounded 49-37 in Game 1. Atlanta needs to rack up the boards in Game 2 so guys like Kyrie Irving, J.R. Smith, and Lebron James don’t get second chances to shoot.
3) Atlanta’s Bench Needs to Up Their Play
One reason why Atlanta was a top team in the NBA was because their bench players held their own. Dennis Schröder, Kent Bazemore, and Mike Muscala have all played well throughout the playoffs. They need to up their play even more in order to beat the Cavaliers, though. Cleveland’s bench outscored Atlanta’s, 28-18, but Cleveland only had one bench player that scored that night. J.R. Smith came in and changed the complexion of the whole game, setting a Cleveland franchise record for three pointer’s made in a game with eight. I don’t expect Smith to do that again, but he changed Game 1 in favor of Cleveland. The bench is all about who can spark their respective teams, and Atlanta’s bench needs to bring a “spark” in Game 2 tonight.