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Kent Bazemore and LeBron James.

Cleveland Cavaliers vs Atlanta Hawks: The key factors in the Cavs' dominance

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The Atlanta Hawks are standing at the bottom of a Cleveland Cavaliers shaped mountain and their chances of reaching the summit are slim to none. 

The Eastern Conference's top seed hold a 2-0 lead over the Hawks after games at the Quicken Loans Arena. However, home comforts will do nothing to dispel the issues that have haunted Mike Budenholzer and his team in recent playoff campaigns.

A win would halt their nine-game (regular or postseason) slide against LeBron and co., however, it will do little to change the outcome of this series. Cleveland are just two wins away from the Eastern Conference Finals and it would come as no surprise to see them advance without dropping a game in either series so far. 

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Atlanta's previous victory over the Cavs came during the 2014-15 regular season when they finished top of the Eastern Conference and Budenholzer was voted coach of the year. However, we all know how last year's Conference Finals ended. 

So what makes the Cavaliers such a tough matchup for the Hawks? A simple answer would be that they have no answer for LeBron James. While that is true, there are deeper issues for the Hawks and with Cleveland in their current form, those issues are further highlighted. 

Of course, the King has been a huge factor. In the previous two playoff series with the Hawks, he has averaged 28.8 points, 8.3 rebounds and 8.5 assists per game - nothing less should be expected from LeBron in playoff mode. 

Looking back to last season's postseason action, the difference between the two franchises on every occasion was simply LeBron. But 2014-15 playoff James is arguably the most dominant version of the superstar we have ever seen. He was simply incredible and led a short-handed Cavaliers to a game six with the Golden State Warriors in the Finals. 

This year, the Hawks have more than one point of emphasis to deal with as the Cavs are playing a brand of passing basketball usually reserved for two Western Conference franchises from Texas and California. 

They have produced 54 assists in their two outings against the Hawks and Cleveland's ability to spread the floor is causing Atlanta all sorts of issues. Their three-point record in game two shows the problems facing the fourth seeds. 

The Hawks are a team built on collective spirit rather than individual brilliance, but the deciding factor in the series may be the inability of their players to get the better of the respective matchups. 

Kyle Korver and Jeff Teague are being neutralised by J.R. Smith and Kyrie Irving with brilliant effect. Korver, in particular, has been a non-factor in the series, Smith has locked him down on defence, limiting the shooting guard to ten points in the two outings, while showing complete dominance at the other end. 

Teague has also been relatively quiet as Irving has shown the type of form that made him an All-Star in the 2014-15 season. Kyrie has shown the passing and scoring ability of a real superstar while Teague has been well below 30 percent from the field in both outings. 

In the frontcourt, LeBron is totally dominating the physically inferior Kent Bazemore. Al Horford and Paul Millsap are providing some fight and enjoying relative success in their matchups with Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson, but they have missed a number shots they would usually make - the mind can do funny things. 

Their bench is having more of an impact on proceedings and that may help the Hawks take a game or two, but in the long run, the Hawks' collective fight and energy will fall to the individual brilliance of Cleveland, who, coincidentally, have also showcased their ability to perform as a cohesive unit.

Topics:
NBA
Central Division
Eastern Conference
Southeast Division
Cleveland Cavaliers
Atlanta Hawks

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