Vivlamore reporting from Cleveland.
The Hawks will start a bigger lineup tonight versus the Cavaliers – in part because of matchups and in part to shake up a struggling team that has lost three straight and four of five games.
The Hawks will start Jeff Teague, Kyle Korver, Josh Smith, Al Horford and Zaza Pachulia.
“We want to shake it up a little bit and see if it will jump start us,” coach Larry Drew said.
Drew said the biggest reason was the matchup at shooting guard. The Cavaliers are starting 6-foot-6, 222-pound C.J. Miles at the 2-guard and he is too big for one of the smaller Hawks guards like Lou Williams or Devin Harris.
(UPDATE: C.J. Miles (back strain) and Daniel Gibson (concussion) are out.)
* Harris has been medically cleared to play and you can expect to see him get limited minutes after he has missed the past 11 game with a sore left foot.
* Anthony Morrow will miss his seventh straight game. He missed five games with a right hip strain and now two games with a stiff back.
* DeShawn Stevenson is doubtful after he played 5:17 in Tuesday’s loss to the Timberwolves. Stevenson has not scored in 2013 in limited action as the team continues to be careful with his aging knees.
“He is good,” Drew said. “We said it from the very beginning that it’s going to be important that we try to keep him healthy. We don’t want to put too much wear and tear on his knees. We’ll see how he is doing the first night of a back-to-back and if we get medical clearance from the doctors that we can play him a little bit the first night and a little bit the second night we’ll do that. But we’ll wait until we get clearance from the doctors.”
* Ivan Johnson continues to be used sparingly this season. He has played a total of 28 minutes the past five games, including a DNP in the loss to the T’Wolves.
I asked Drew what it would take for Johnson to get more playing time, especially when at times this season the coach has said the Hawks have lacked a physical presence.
“I’m always looking at matchups,” Drew said. “I’m looking at the rhythm of the game. I’m looking at who I feel that can probably serve us best in a certain position. Certainly (Johnson) brings a physicality to the lineup and in this situation he just has to stay ready. He has to stay ready that if his number is called he’s ready to respond.”
* I asked Drew how the team responded to his comments following Tuesday’s loss that the team played “soft” in the first half against the T’Wolves.
“We had a breakfast meeting today and watch some clips from last night’s game,” Drew said. “Hopefully it will sink in. After they’ve seen the clips that I pulled, I think they were in agreement that we just came out way too soft, way too tentative, low energy. Everybody was in total agreement. There was a clear contrast between the first half and the second half. You can’t spot teams like that on the road. You have to exert too much energy to get back into it. We did not get off to a good start. That second half we played with more energy, more sense of urgency. Hopefully we’ll get off to a good start.”
* Josh Smith will be an on-set guest of NBA TV’s NBA Game Time Thursday night at 7 p.m. Smith will join host Vince Cellini and analysts Dennis Scott and Michael Redd.
* The Cavaliers lost the NBA’s leading rebounder Anderson Varejao for 6-8 weeks after the center underwent knee surgery Wednesday.
- Chris Vivlamore
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