LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers will head down south to the Philips Arena to face off against the Atlanta Hawks in the next round of the NBA Playoffs on Wednesday.
According to a report from ESPN, this series would mark the fourth time James has faced a No. 1 seed with an NBA Finals berth on the line; James' teams won in each of those encounters. This time, he will be facing off against DeMarre Carroll of the Hawks.
"In two meetings this season, James shot 3-of-15 from the field when guarded by Carroll," ESPN wrote. "In fact, James is about to see a Hawks team that looks pretty similar to the Spurs team he faced in the NBA Finals last season."
ESPN reported that the Cavaliers lead the NBA in using isolation on offense, while the Hawk's signature style involved passing the ball. The sports network shared some top stats about the upcoming series.
"The Cavaliers led the NBA in isolation plays per game in the regular season, and they have maintained that lead in the postseason," ESPN wrote. "The Hawks average barely half as many plays per game in isolation as the Cavaliers. Atlanta assisted on an NBA-high 68 percent of its made field goals in the regular season."
ESPN also reported that the coaches of both teams were "short on NBA experience."
"David Blatt is a first-year NBA coach who made his name in Europe," ESPN wrote. "Mike Budenholzer (the 2014-15 NBA Coach of the Year) is in his second season as a head coach after he spent the previous 16 years as an assistant under Popovich."
ESPN added that while the Cavaliers will be playing for the Eastern Conference championship for the third time in three years, the Hawks would be making their first appearance in the conference finals since 1970.
"Atlanta has not made the NBA Finals since 1961, when the franchise was based in St. Louis; the Cavaliers made it to the 2007 NBA Finals," ESPN wrote.
Chris Haynes of Northeast Ohio Media Group contended that this year's Eastern Conference Finals could have "the potential to be one epic series." That's because both teams have good players.
"Cleveland has the best player in the series and if Kyrie Irving is close to 80 percent by Wednesday, they'll have the two best players in the series," Haynes wrote. "That will equate to quality looks at the basket even with the defense set."
However, Haynes pointed out that Atlanta relies on "a disciplined, team-oriented game predicated on ball movement and moving without the ball."
"They are very methodical in how they attack and if you're caught sleeping, they'll hit you with backdoor action and a barrage of blindsided flare-screens to open three-point opportunities," Haynes wrote of the Hawks.
Although he debated on which team to pick, Haynes ended up favoring Cleveland within six games because he thought the Cavaliers were "borderline unstoppable" when James was "engaged on both ends of the floor from start to finish."
"My basketball mind wants to pick Atlanta, but it's hard to pick against James, especially considering how well the role players are playing right now," Haynes wrote.