If the Cleveland Cavaliers want to be taken seriously during their curious run toward a postseason berth in the Eastern Conference, they cannot afford to take a night off.
The Cavaliers will look to rebound from a poor effort in their last game when they welcome the Atlanta Hawks to Gund Arena.
Though they weren’t expected to be serious contenders for a playoff berth this season, the Cavaliers are very much alive because of the number of weaker teams in the East. Though they are 12 games below .500, the Cavs are just one game out of the eighth spot with 22 to play.
However, the Cavaliers are coming off a bad 92-81 loss at 18-win Chicago on Monday.
“It was just one of those games where everything bounced their way and nothing went our way,” power forward Carlos Boozer said. “We came in a little flat from the beginning. We were playing catch-up and we never could catch up.”
Rookie LeBron James scored 18 points in the loss for the Cavs, who are tied with Philadelphia for 10th place in the conference.
Cleveland cannot afford a similar letdown on Wednesday, especially with lowly Atlanta coming off its biggest win of the season.
The Lakers were playing without Kobe Bryant, who was in Colorado for a closed hearing in the sexual assault case against him, but Atlanta’s lineup at one point included Mamadou N’diaye and Hiram Fuller, two players filling out 10-day contracts.
“We’ve just got a bunch of guys making the most of their chances,” Crawford said. “I think we all know we can play in this league, and we’re just now getting our chances.”