It was very unfortunate to see the way Game 1 unfolded and ended between the Atlanta Hawks and the challenging Cleveland Cavaliers; with DeMarre Carroll suffering a knee injury and the matador defense on King Lebron James down the stretch.
The loss is one thing, because the Hawks have always looked like an overachieving team, but the truth is that the Cavaliers are just the better team when James is able to dominate the game the way he normally does. It’s true that Atlanta has been able to find success this season as a team but they will have to make the Cavs beat them this series without the brilliant dominance of LBJ. Whether they have to trap or they have to funnel their defense towards James – or just aggravate him – they have to do something to get the ball out of his hands.
As for the Carroll injury, hopefully he does not try to push that knee too much. There have been many instances of guys – Tracy McGrady, Grant Hill, Brandon Roy come to mind – trying to get back or push their bodies further while dealing with debilitating injuries. Hopefully Carroll does not try to return to the game too soon. Just from the way it looked, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Carroll actually tore his meniscus or tore a ligament in his knee. That is very different from the idea that there was no “structural damage” on his knee. A tear of his meniscus or ligament(s) is enough to put him out of the Playoffs. Don’t expect Carroll to be back for any of the remaining games in this series.
If the Hawks are to win this series, they will have to find a way to limit LeBron James and they would have to play defense like their lives depend on it. It would truly have to take an Herculean effort by at least 8-10 players on their roster to get this done. It can be done but it is not going to be like anything they have ever tried to do before. Also, Jeff Teague has to be better in the closing moments of games. His drives to the basket late in Game 1 became too predictable and easy to guard. He made the offense stagnant at crucial moments in the game and in the process didn’t give his team any chance to win the game. His game play has to get miles better if they are to have a chance in this series.