To some, perhaps, the beginning of the quixotic quest to be better than Cleveland – who knew that would ever be a chore? – held promise.
Sure, the Hawks didn’t beat the Cavs – again – on Monday, but they could have. In this one-sided relationship, that represented the faint hint of slight improvement.
What message to take, as the Hawks prepared for Game Two in the Rust Belt? Could coming back on the Cavs, leading late only to be outscored 17-5 at the close to lose by 11 be a sign that the Hawks could actually mount a competitive series vs. Team LeBron?
Pffffffft, responded that portion of the Cleveland statistical metropolitan area holding press credentials.
Here was your message, as seen from the perspective of those souls who, despite all the advances in transportation, have chosen to live in northern Ohio (sometimes it’s helpful to see yourself in harsh light of outsiders).
They are telling you that any claim of the Hawks possibly matching up with Cleveland was as hollow, and a whole lot less attention-grabbing, than a big bass drum:
From Chris Fedor, writing on Game One for Cleveland Plain Dealer: “Cleveland's star power took over, as Kyrie Irving and LeBron James combined for nearly half of the Cavs' fourth-quarter points. Tristan Thompson pulled down a gut wrenching rebound that gave the Cavs another possession, one that finished with a three-point play – complete with James flexing his bulging right bicep, indicating that he's still too much for Atlanta.
“So, too, are the Cavaliers – even on a night when the East's top seed wasn't at its best.”
Terry Pluto, in the same publication: “The Cavs needed a game like this. No matter how much respect they tried to have for the Hawks, the Cavs know they swept Atlanta in the Eastern Conference Finals last season. They know they won all three regular-season games. Most of all, the Cavs know they are the superior team.”
Writing for the suburban Chronicle-Telegram was Jim Ingraham: “The biggest, most obvious reason for that is the Cavs have a ‘Big Three,’ while the Hawks don’t even have a ‘Big One.’ Atlanta is a well-balanced, quality NBA team. The league has so many bad teams that a team like Atlanta can win 48 games and comfortably qualify for the playoffs, which the Hawks did.
“But to win consistently in the playoffs – when it’s big boy basketball time – you need stars. The Cavs have three of them, the Hawks have none.”
There’s your long-distance reality check. It does not appear as if there is great concern over temporarily lost leads and the occasional wandering quarter back at Cavs central. Probably for good reason, until the Hawks force some real concern upon them.