Cavs get second shot at playoffs, must slow Hawks’ Young

Apr 14, 2022, 2:55 AM | Updated: 2:57 pm

Atlanta Hawks guards Trae Young and Bogdan Bogdanovic (13) celebrate after a Hawks basket during th...

Atlanta Hawks guards Trae Young and Bogdan Bogdanovic (13) celebrate after a Hawks basket during the second half of the team's NBA play-in basketball game against the Charlotte Hornets on Wednesday, April 13, 2022, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

(AP Photo/John Bazemore)

              Brooklyn Nets' Kyrie Irving, right, passes around Cleveland Cavaliers defenders during the second half of the opening basketball game of the NBA play-in tournament, Tuesday, April 12, 2022, in New York. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
              Brooklyn Nets' Bruce Brown, second from left, fouls Cleveland Cavaliers' Darius Garland, left, during the first half of the opening basketball game of the NBA play-in tournament Tuesday, April 12, 2022, in New York. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
              Cleveland Cavaliers' Rajon Rondo reacts to a call during the second half against the Brooklyn Nets in the opening basketball game of the NBA play-in tournament, Tuesday, April 12, 2022, in New York. The Nets won 115-108. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
              Atlanta Hawks guards Trae Young and Bogdan Bogdanovic (13) celebrate after a Hawks basket during the second half of the team's NBA play-in basketball game against the Charlotte Hornets on Wednesday, April 13, 2022, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
              Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young (11) drives to the basket past Charlotte Hornets forward P.J. Washington (25) during the first half of an NBA play-in basketball game Wednesday, April 13, 2022, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

CLEVELAND (AP) — Many of them NBA big-game beginners, the young Cavaliers took their lumps in Brooklyn the other night and missed their first chance of making the playoffs.

Fortunately, they’ve got another shot.

Trouble is, Trae Young does, too.

Atlanta’s high-scoring All-Star guard will be THE defensive focal point for Cleveland on Friday night as the Cavs host the Hawks in a win-or-start-vacation game. The winner advances to play No. 1 seed Miami in the Eastern Conference’s first round.

Young averaged 32.5 points in four games — his high was 41 — against the Cavs this season, and Cleveland coach J.B. Bickerstaff didn’t waste a breath in bringing him up when asked about the challenges the Hawks present offensively.

“Obviously, it starts with Trae Young,” he said. “What he does impacts everybody else and his ability to one, make all the shots from all over the floor, two, to make all the plays with the ball in his hand, the passes and then that pick-and-roll game that they run.”

Young started slowly but scored 24 points in Atlanta’s 132-103 rout of Charlotte on Wednesday night, a game the Cavs watched live and scouted together.

“They played well and they moved the ball well as a team,” Cavs guard Rajon Rondo said. “Trae accepted the double teams that Charlotte threw at him at the start of the game. He got off the ball extremely well, he shared the ball with his teammates and they made plays for each other.”

The Cavs didn’t handle Brooklyn’s two-headed, Kevin Durant-Kyrie Irving monster early in Tuesday night’s 115-108 loss, the first taste of playoff-like intensity and physicality for most of Cleveland’s players.

The Nets led by 20 points after the first quarter, and although the Cavs fought back and were within six late, the initial onslaught was too much to overcome.

There is no teacher like experience, and Bickerstaff believes his team will grow from the play-in opener.

“We’ve been tested and I feel like our guys have done a really good job of responding,” he said. And when they’ve been in a certain situation, they don’t make the same mistake twice. They come out and they learn from it and they improve on in the next time out.”

Atlanta won three of the four matchups this season with Cleveland, blowing the Cavs out 131-107 in the most recent matchup on March 31. But the Cavs were short-handed in every game and could get back All-Star center Jarrett Allen, who has been sidelined since March 6 with a broken finger.

The team officially listed Allen as questionable on the injury report, a positive step after he missed the past 19 games.

Allen in the middle of Cleveland’s defense would be another obstacle for Young, who is not only dangerous as a shooter but in finding Clint Capela and Atlanta’s other big mans on lobs at the rim.


With 134 games of postseason experience, Rondo gives the Cavs someone who has seen it all this time of year.

He’s been a sounding board for teammates and coaches. Bickerstaff called him a basketball “savant” before Rondo got nine assists in 26 productive minutes against the Nets.

A two-time champion, the 36-year-old Rondo struggled to describe his postseason metamorphosis.

“I can’t really put it into words,” he said. “I get a little more time to rest my body. I usually play a lot more minutes. The coaches usually allow me to do what I do best — manipulate the game and try to do what’s best for the team and stay on the same page with my teammates, along with getting W’s.”


Atlanta forward John Collins, who hasn’t played since March 11 with a sprained finger and foot, won’t play along with guard Lou Williams (back).

Also, guard Bogdan Bogdanovic is questionable with a left ankle sprain.


Hawks forward De’Andre Hunter scored 22 points in the play-in victory over the Hornets, with 16 coming during a third-quarter barrage that turned the game into a blowout.

The No. 4 overall pick in the 2019 draft, Hunter has battled health issues and struggled to develop into a consistent performer over his three-year NBA career. The Hawks hope his performance was a sign that he’s ready to step up in the postseason.

“He was playing aggressive,” Young said. “That’s what we need from Dre. He was making plays, getting to the basket, and the way he was guarding got Miles (Bridges) frustrated. It was a great all-around game for Dre.”


Cleveland’s advantage in the post — especially if Allen goes — puts a big responsibility on Capela.

Outside of him, the Hawks don’t really have anyone who can match up with Cleveland’s front line, which can include three 7-footers at once.

“They pose a challenge because of their size,” McMillan said. “They do a good job of taking advantage of their size with their ability to pound you in the paint. They’ve got a of lot of length.”

Capela had a big game against Charlotte with 15 points and 17 rebounds, but the Hornets went went with a small lineup most of the game. That won’t be the case against the Cavaliers, but the Hawks are confident in their man in the middle.

“He was everywhere,” Danilo Gallinari said. “We know he can do that every single night. He’s got our back and can dominate the paint.”


AP Sports Writer Paul Newberry in Atlanta contributed to this report.


More AP NBA: and

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Associated Press

Ex-Packer Guion gets 1 year for domestic violence assault

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Former Green Bay Packers defensive tackle Letroy Guion was sentenced to one year in jail after pleading no contest in a domestic violence assault at his home last fall. Brown County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Walsh also ordered Guion on Tuesday to serve three years’ probation and complete a domestic […]

3 months ago

Joe Jarzynka...

Associated Press

Durant eager for Suns debut vs. Hornets after knee injury

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Kevin Durant has been through quite a bit during his 15-year NBA career — but joining a new team midway through the season is a new one for the 13-time All-Star. The 34-year-old Durant doesn’t seem all that worried. Durant makes his highly anticipated Phoenix Suns debut on Wednesday night against […]

3 months ago

FILE - Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores stands on the sideline during the second half of an N...

Associated Press

Judge: NFL coach can press discrimination claims in court

NEW YORK (AP) — NFL Coach Brian Flores can pursue some of his discrimination claims against the league and its teams in court rather than through arbitration, a judge ruled Wednesday. The written decision by Judge Valerie Caproni in Manhattan was issued months after lawyers for the league tried to get the lawsuit moved to […]

3 months ago

Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Alex Stalock cools off in the first period during an NHL hockey game ...

Associated Press

Kane trade reinforces hard reality of Blackhawks rebuild

CHICAGO (AP) — After days of speculation, the harsh reality of the Chicago Blackhawks’ situation was reinforced by one move in a flurry of transactions ahead of the NHL trade deadline. Showtime is over, at least in Chicago, and a seemingly bright future is, well, way off in the distance. The reverberations of Chicago’s decision […]

3 months ago

FILE -  Yves Jean-Bart, president of the Haitian Football Federation, wearing a protective face mas...

Associated Press

Disgraced ex-Haitian soccer president announces he’s back

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Haiti’s former soccer federation president whose lifetime ban from sport over sexual abuse allegations was overturned last month announced Wednesday that he is reclaiming his position. Yves Jean-Bart’s defiant announcement could lead to a standoff with FIFA, which already has appointed an emergency management committee to lead the Haitian Football Association […]

3 months ago

FILE - Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers walks off the field after an NFL football game against the ...

Associated Press

Rodgers says decision on future will come ‘soon enough’

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Aaron Rodgers says he will make a decision on his future “soon enough” as the four-time MVP quarterback ponders whether to play next season and if his future remains with the Green Bay Packers. Rodgers, 39, discussed his future while speaking on an episode of the “Aubrey Marcus Podcast” that […]

3 months ago

Cavs get second shot at playoffs, must slow Hawks’ Young