100 - 88 Final
  for this game

Hawks-Cavaliers Preview

Nov 1, 2010 - 10:31 PM By MATT BECKER STATS Senior Writer

Atlanta (3-0) at Cleveland (1-2), 7:00 p.m. EDT

Despite finishing with the Eastern Conference's third-best record last season and returning the same starting five, the Atlanta Hawks aren't receiving much attention in the NBA - or even their own division.

That snub is just fine with them.

The overlooked Hawks try to open with four consecutive victories Tuesday night when they visit the Cleveland Cavaliers, who expect to have Mo Williams available for the first time this season.

Atlanta (3-0) has been sort of an afterthought in the Southeast Division with all the hoopla surrounding Miami's Big Three, not to mention defending division champion Orlando and John Wall's debut in Washington as the top overall pick.

The Hawks haven't concerned themselves with these storylines, though, and are the only undefeated team remaining in the East.

"We were the third seed last year for a reason," said Jamal Crawford, who had 15 points in Saturday's 99-95 win over the Wizards. "But those other teams are getting the hype for a reason. I just hope we'll continue to shine under the radar - and go into the playoffs the same way."

Crawford was one of five players to score at least 12 points in rookie coach Larry Drew's new motion offense in the home opener. Joe Johnson led the way with 25, including 14 in the fourth quarter to help the Hawks build a nine-point lead after entering the period with the score tied.

Johnson made 5 of 8 shots in the final quarter after going 5 of 15 in the first three.

"I'm a shooter," he said. "I've got to keep shooting."

Johnson and the Hawks, off to their best start since opening 6-0 two years ago, have lost 17 of 22 against the Cavaliers since 2004-05, but they hope to change that trend following the departure of LeBron James.

As expected, Cleveland (1-2) is searching for an identity in the post-James era. The Cavaliers pulled off a surprising 95-87 win over Boston in the opener but struggled after halftime in losing their last two.

One night after being outscored 31-17 in the third quarter of a loss at Toronto, Cleveland blew a 14-point halftime lead by getting outscored 31-15 in the third and lost 107-104 to Sacramento.

"The third quarter has been terrible for us," coach Byron Scott said. "Having a 14-point lead, I thought we took a big exhale instead of coming out with the other attitude of going up by 20.

"We have a lot to learn about ourselves as a basketball team. It's going to take some time."

Scott hopes having Williams back on the court will provide leadership and offense to help his team get on track.

Williams, an All-Star in 2009, was sidelined for much of training camp and the exhibition season with a groin injury. He was second on the Cavs behind James last season with 15.8 points and 5.3 assists per game.

Cavaliers forward Antawn Jamison did not practice Monday because of soreness in his left knee and could miss Tuesday's game. Jamison has come off the bench and is averaging 6.3 points.

The Cavaliers went 3-1 against Atlanta in 2009-10 with the loss coming in the regular-season finale. James and Williams both sat out that game for Cleveland, while Johnson, Crawford, Mike Bibby, Al Horford and Josh Smith rested for the Hawks, who snapped a five-game losing streak in the series.