WHAT’S A STAKE; WIN OR GO HOME FOR THE OFF-SEASON
The Cavaliers got their first win of this incredible season against the Hawks back in October. Now, they face Atlanta on what promises to be a wild night in downtown Cleveland – needing just one more win to reach the NBA Playoffs.
The Wine & Gold are coming off a tough loss to Brooklyn in the 7-8 Play-In Game – trailing, 40-20, after one period and unable to overcome that early deficit, dropping the 115-108 decision on Tuesday. The following night, the Hawks clobbered the Hornets in Atlanta, with Trae Young and Clint Capela netting double-doubles in the 30-point win.
That sets the stage for tonight’s battle – the fifth of the season, with Atlanta taking each of the last three.
Atlanta’s final victory of the series came against a seriously shorthanded Cavaliers squad. Since then, Cleveland has gotten Evan Mobley back, and Jarrett Allen continues to progress. He’s listed as questionable for tonight’s contest, but Coach Bickerstaff said on Thursday that he took part with the team’s walk-through in Independence.
On Tuesday night in Brooklyn, Kyrie Irving hit his first 12 shots and he and Kevin Durant combined for 59 points and 23 assists in the win.
Darius Garland went blow-for-blow with Kyrie, netting 16 of his 34 points in the fourth quarter.
Kevin Love doubled-up with 14 points and a game-high 13 rebounds and Evan Mobley notched 19 points, seven boards and the Cavs only two blocked shots.
The Hawks shot 52 percent from the floor and 50 percent from deep in their Wednesday night win over Charlotte. Trae Young struggled from the floor but still led Atlanta with 24 points. Clint Capela (and the Hawks as a team) dominated the boards as the Hornets were crushed again in the Play-In game.
COURTESY CLEVELAND CAVALIERS COMMUNICATIONS