Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young (11) puts up a shot between Houston Rockets forwards Usman Garuba (16) and David Nwaba (2) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, April 10, 2022, in Houston. (AP Photo/Michael Wyke)

Hawks/Cavs Play-In Preview

The Atlanta Hawks and Cleveland Cavaliers face off for round two of the NBA Play-In tournament.

Cavs Playing Catch Up

While the Cavaliers had a strong start to the season, the team has faltered over the last few weeks. The team has lost seven of the last ten, including a devastating loss to the Orlando Magic. The postseason did not show the Cavs any more love, starting off the Play-In tournament with a 115-108 loss to the Nets.

Due to all of this, Cleveland is in desperate need for a win. For this to come to fruition, the Cavs need to focus on their defense. The Atlanta offense has been a powerhouse this season, and if Cleveland can shut down their scoring, especially from inside the paint, there might be a shot for playoff contention.

Offensively, the ball needs to find its way to Darius Garland. The Cavs leading scorer by far, Garland should be a heavy focus for Cleveland in order to compete against an Atlanta team that can almost score at will. Jarrett Allen and Collin Sexton will also be key components for Cavalier victory, helping to run the score up as they have all season.

Hawks Heating Up

Atlanta has been on fire the past few weeks. Despite a rough start to the season, the Hawks have finished strong, only losing three games in the last 10 of the regular season. Atlanta continued their run with a dominating 132-104 win over the Hornets in round one of the Play-In Tournament. With a win over the Cavs tonight, Atlanta will have punched their ticket to the playoffs, and have another shot at a second consecutive Finals appearance.

Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young (11) puts up a shot between Houston Rockets forwards Usman Garuba (16) and David Nwaba (2) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, April 10, 2022, in Houston. (AP Photo/Michael Wyke)

While the Hawks defense is doing their job, the offense is what has been turning heads. Averaging nearly 114 points per game, Atlanta is a scary team to defend. The offense is not just led, but carried by Trae Young, who averages 28.4 PPG and 9.7 assists per game. The rest of the Atlanta offense may be good, but Young is great.

Despite the Cavs having the home court, the cards are right for Atlanta to push their way into the playoffs. With another dominant performance from the offense, the Hawks should find themselves right back in contention.

https://twitter.com/ESPNNBA/status/1514417367731818507?s=20&t=FBvtUzKh7oh1H87UX0jE9Q

The game will tip off at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, April 15, at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse.

About Christopher Cappiali

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