Cavaliers vs. Hawks Play-In: Odds, predictions, three things to watch
It’s win or go home for the Cleveland Cavaliers and Atlanta Hawks, with the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference and a first round matchup with the Miami Heat up for grabs.
The Hawks defeated the Charlotte Hornets 132-103 in the 9-10 game, while the Cavs have a second shot at advancing to the postseason after losing their 7-8 matchup to the Brooklyn Nets 115-108.
The Hawks won the season series against the Cavs 3-1, taking victories in the last three games:
- Oct. 23, 2021: Ricky Rubio scored 23 points, while Evan Mobley added a 17-point, 11-rebound double-double to lead the Cavs to victory.
- Dec. 31, 2021: Trae Young poured in 35 points and 11 assists in a narrow three-point win against a Darius Garland-less Cavs.
- Feb 15, 2022: Young was again unstoppable, dropping 41 points and nine assists in a home victory.
- March 31, 2022: Without Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen, the Cavs had no answer for Young again, who recorded 30 points and nine assists while Kevin Hureter added 23 points.
TSN has you covered with everything you need to know ahead of this Play-In matchup.
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Three things to watch
Mobley’s big moment
Since Jarrett Allen has been sidelined, the Cavaliers’ defense has taken a hit, leaving plenty of responsibility on the shoulders of rookie big man Evan Mobley.
Against Atlanta, he will have his hands full against Clint Capela, who punished the undersized Hornets with a 15-point, 17-rebound double-double as the Hawks feasted in the paint.
CC first-half double-double 💪 pic.twitter.com/uVJ2IfKsDh
— Atlanta Hawks (@ATLHawks) April 14, 2022
According to Chris Fedor of cleveland.com, after a 19-game absence, Allen is a 50 percent chance of returning for Friday’s do-or-die contest, but regardless, the Cavs will need a big showing from Mobley to give them a chance against Atlanta’s high-powered offense.
The Cavs have plenty of big bodies in Lauri Markannen and Kevin Love to throw at the Hawks, but Mobley holds the keys.
The point guard battle
While he had a quieter outing against the Hornets, Trae Young has the potential to swing this one-off game in the Hawks’ favor after dominating the Cavs in the regular season.
In four games in 2021-22, Young averaged 32.5 points and nine assists on 46.1 percent from the field and 41.2 percent from the 3-point line.
If Darius Garland can keep pace with Young and negate his offensive output with a big night of his own, it will go a long way to aiding the Cavs’ chances.
Hawks road form
The Cavs will host Friday’s Play-In game at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse and they will be hoping to take advantage of the Hawks’ poor form on the road this season.
Atlanta finished 27-14 on their home floor this season, but went just 16-25 away from State Farm Arena. Meanwhile, the Cavs were 25-16 in their own building.
Expect a rocking atmosphere in Cleveland, with the Cavs looking to make their first postseason appearance without LeBron James since 1998.
Cavaliers vs. Hawks odds
Odds provided by DraftKings.
Cavaliers vs. Hawks predictions
Benyam Kidane: Hawks
Nick Metallinos: Hawks
Scott Rafferty: Hawks
Jordan Greer: Hawks