If Wednesday’s Game 2 between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Atlanta Hawks wasn’t over before it started, it was over in the first quarter. The Cavs led by 15 after one and by 36 at the break. They hit an NBA playoff record 25 three-pointers and won by 25 points in the 123-98 rout, as Cleveland rested its starters for the entire fourth quarter.
“It was so difficult (to watch) that it turned into TV-show watching because you could see what the writing (on the wall) was,” Fox Sports Southeast Grizzlies analyst Brevin Knight said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “Offensively, (the Hawks) don’t look like themselves. They were one of the better assisting teams in the league throughout the year in terms of moving the ball and getting good shots. Now they’ve turned into more of a one-on-one team, which plays right into Cleveland’s hand to allow them then to get out and run on the other end. They’re just shooting shoot-around shots, where you are just stepping into anything.”
Ten different Cavs hit threes on Wednesday, including J.R. Smith, who hit seven, LeBron James and Kyrie Irving, who hit four, and Kevin love, who hit three.
“You know it’s going to be one of those nights where no matter what you do, they’re still going to have a good night,” Knight said. “But you would expect a little bit more fight from a team who, all year, they said was one of the teams that could compete with Cleveland in the postseason.”
After the game, Charles Barkley said that the Hawks needed to “take somebody out” while the Cavs were chucking threes in garbage time. You can interpret Barkley’s take in any number of ways, but Knight said if it were him, he wouldn’t try to put anyone on the floor.
“I would take it as take them out in terms of making them a non-factor in the game,” Knight said. “In our profession, the last thing you want to do is hurt anybody. So I think his point is to what Detroit did. They just allowed LeBron to play one-on-one basketball for the most point and not let him be able to involve everybody else. I think Atlanta has to figure out who are they going to take away? Are they going to force LeBron to go and have to score 50 every night, or are they going to continue to allow him to orchestrate everything, swing the ball side-to-side and keep allowing Cleveland to get good shots? So until they eliminate something in the equation, these games won’t change in any fashion.”
Charles Oakley didn’t take kindly to Barkley’s analysis, tweeting that the former MVP was “never tough” and had better “stop talking.”
Knight, whose career overlapped with Oakley’s, said the 6-8 power forward was one of the toughest players in the league.
“You knew that if you got into it with him, you better be able to defend yourself,” Knight said. “He was not just an on-court persona. His toughness carried over to every part of his life. He was a guy that wasn’t going to take anything from anybody, and he acted and played that way. I’m glad that I could call him a friend so he never really went after me in that way. As a little guy, you find out who you should befriend early in the game.”
Knight, 40, does not think there is much toughness in today’s NBA game.
“No, and I think that has diminished how great you can say some of these people are,” he said. “That’s not a negative. That’s just a reality. If you, as an offensive player, can move and do whatever you want and all I can do is slide my feet and never put my hands on you, never gain any type of defensive advantage, then you have the scoring the way you have it. You have guys being able to run around the floor. Reggie Miller was one of the few guys that could run around as much as he did and score because a lot of guys couldn’t deal with the physical nature of being hit as many times as you were going to be hit running through the paint. Today, if you run through the paint, it’s easy money. Nobody can touch you. I wish they would allow a little bit more physical play to allow the defense a true chance to stop the offensive players, but I also understand this is a day and age where you want to see a lot of points scored – and that’s what fans want to see.”