Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Atlanta Hawks Pick & Prediction DECEMBER 16th 2023

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It may have been too early to call Friday’s Atlanta Hawks win over the Toronto Raptors a must-win, but it was much needed.

A 125-104 winner in Toronto, the Hawks look to make it two straight when they travel to Cleveland to take on the Cavaliers on Saturday.

Atlanta’s victory snapped a season-high, five-game losing streak as Trae Young poured in 38 points and added 11 assists.

“We’re not satisfied with how we’ve been playing,” Young said. “We have got to just continue to stay level-headed and learn throughout the process.”

Atlanta’s defense, which ranks near the bottom in the league, keyed the victory Friday by allowing its fewest points all season.

“Defensively, I thought we played one of our best games tonight,” Hawks head coach Quin Snyder said. “There were a lot of reasons for that. I think the biggest thing was the connectivity. Our guys were really focused on the game plan and the things they needed to do to really help each other.”

The battle on the glass was a contributing factor as Atlanta outrebounded Toronto 55-32, including 16-3 on offensive rebounds. Atlanta had three players with double-digit boards, as Clint Capela grabbed 15, Onyeka Okongwu had 11 and Saddiq Bey added 10.

The Hawks look to make it consecutive strong defensive performances in Cleveland, where they take on an ailing Cavaliers team that enters Saturday near the bottom in scoring in the Eastern Conference.

Losers of three straight, Cleveland’s offense suffered a major blow in Thursday’s 116-107 loss to the host Boston Celtics, as second-leading scorer Darius Garland (20.7 points per game) suffered a broken jaw and is expected to be out multiple weeks.

To compound the bad news out of Cleveland, it was reported Friday that third-year big-man Evan Mobley will need surgery on his left knee and will miss six to eight weeks. Mobley is averaging 16 points per game and a team-high 10.5 rebounds per contest.

With two of Cleveland’s three leading scorers out, Cavaliers star Donovan Mitchell will be forced to continue to carry the load of the team’s scoring.

Mitchell has averaged 27.3 points during Cleveland’s three-game skid, including a 31-point output Thursday in Boston. It was a week that saw the Cavaliers lose three of four on their road trip before they play four straight at home.

“You’re obviously disappointed every night that you lose,” Cavaliers head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “There’s no silver lining or scapegoat because of your opponent or how tough it was. You’re disappointed with the loss. It’s our responsibility to go home and regroup. We need to take care of business at home.”

Saturday will be the second time the teams meet in Cleveland in the last three weeks, as Cleveland disposed of Atlanta 128-105 on Nov. 28. Mitchell scored 40 points, his second 40-point game of the season.

The teams will meet in Atlanta on Jan. 20.

–Field Level Media

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