The Atlanta Hawks face a potentially decisive Game 2 on Friday night as they host the Cleveland Cavaliers looking to avoid falling into a 2-0 hole.
Where: Philips Arena, Atlanta.
When: Saturday May 23, 01:30 (UK time)
Watch live: Click here to watch on BT Sport online!
The Cavs took Game 1 behind a strong performance from LeBron James, while JR Smith hit eight three-pointers to ensure that the visitors inflicted the first blow in the Eastern Conference Finals.
That would have been a huge setback for the Hawks who have been strong at home this season and would have hoped to have protected home court at least, but they must now regroup and ensure that things don’t get worse.
Coach Mike Budenholzer had some positive news on Thursday as it was revealed that DeMarre Carroll hadn’t suffered any structural damage to his knee, with initial fears that it was a serious injury.
However, it was diagnosed as just a bone bruise after an X-ray came back negative, and he will be hopeful of returning in this series sooner rather than later.
His return will certainly be a huge boost for the Hawks given that he has been an offensive spark in the playoffs with an average of 17 points per game, while he will also be assigned as LeBron’s main defender moving forward too.
Cleveland also have their health concerns with point guard Kyrie Irving still struggling with a knee strain as well as a foot problem, and he conceded that it is becoming very frustrating for him not being able to help his team to the best of his ability.
Nevertheless, the Cavs have managed well enough without him and if James continues to be influential with his support cast chipping in and making vital contributions, then they may not even need a fully fit Irving to make the difference.
Prediction: Atlanta need to win this game otherwise it could be their last home game of the season. As a result, expect them to come out with more energy and intensity and feed off the crowd to get the best of Cleveland and tie up the series.