The Atlanta Hawks head to Cleveland for the first time in the post LeBron James era to take on the back-to-woeful Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday. (7:00 PM EST, SportsSouth, 97.9 FM) The Election Day matchup lost most of its luster when James rebuffed the Cavs' attempt to sign him to a contract extension and -- like many in the region -- took his services out of the Rust Belt state of Ohio.
But how the heck could he refuse this hilarious plea to stay in that bustling metropolis of Cleveland, Ohio? And in keeping with the Election Day theme, watch Ohio Governor Ted Strickland begging for James to stay to "save (Cleveland's) downtown." He, too, could be sent packing on Tuesday.
(I think I could watch that video 1,000 times and still laugh my you know what off every time.)
Anyhow, onto the game. The Hawks (3-0) go soaring into their Ohio matchup looking to exact some revenge on the Cavaliers who have been a thorn in their side during the LBJ era. Atlanta, which is the only undefeated team left in the Eastern Conference, is coming off of a 99-95 win over the woeful Washington Wizards in their home opener on Saturday night.
Joe Johnson did what franchise players should do -- take the team on his shoulders -- in a tight game down the stretch. Johnson, who was last seen criticizing Hawks fans at the Highlight Factory, did his part to make amends, scoring 14 of his 25 points in the final 12 minutes to lead Atlanta to victory. Al Horford, who was signed to a five-year, $60 million contract extension on Monday, added 21 points and 10 rebounds for the Hawks, who are one-half game ahead of James' new team, the Miami Heat (3-1), in the Southeast.
Cleveland (1-2) has predictably struggled post-James, overachieving for an opening night win over the Boston Celtics before dropping their last two games. But they should get back All-Star Mo Williams, who missed the team's first three games with a groin injury.
The Cavs are not a very good team and are susceptible to that typical third-quarter collapse that seemingly happens to bad teams that do not have the talent level of their superior opposition. Look for the Hawks to put the pedal to the medal against Cleveland and come back from Ohio with a W.