NBA Play-In Tournament: Hawks vs. Cavaliers Battle for #8 Seed

The Battle for the #8 Seed in the Eastern Conference Playoffs: Atlanta Hawks vs. Cleveland Cavs

On the final night of the 2022 NBA Play-In Tournament, the Cleveland Cavs will host the Atlanta Hawks in a high-stakes game to determine the #8 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. The winner of this game will secure the final playoff spot and face the formidable #1 Miami Heat in the first round, while the loser will be eliminated and miss out on the postseason.

The Cavs’ journey in the Play-In Tournament began with a loss to the Brooklyn Nets in the seventh-place vs. eighth-place game. This confirmed the Nets as the #7 seed, but the Cavs still had a chance to qualify as the #8 seed if they could emerge victorious against the winner of the ninth-place vs. tenth-place game.

The Hawks’ Redemption

In contrast, the Atlanta Hawks had a convincing win over the Charlotte Hornets in the first round of the Play-In Tournament, reigniting their hopes of making it to the playoffs. The Hawks had a somewhat disappointing regular season after their impressive run in the 2021 NBA Playoffs, where they advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals before being eliminated by the eventual champion, the Milwaukee Bucks.

The Showdown: Atlanta Hawks (43-39) at Cleveland Cavs (44-38)

When: Tip-off at 7:30pm

Where: Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, Cleveland, OH

Point Spread: ATL -2

Total: 223.5 o/u

Moneyline: CLE +115 / ATL -135

Throughout the regular season, the Hawks had the upper hand in their matchups against the Cavs, winning three out of the four games. This explains why the Cavs are considered underdogs with a +2 point spread at home. Although the Hawks struggled against the spread with a record of 38-45, the Cavs performed relatively better at 43-36-4 ATS.

Looking at the bigger picture, the Cavs’ chances of winning the 2022 NBA championship are quite slim, with their odds listed at +50000 on the NBA futures board at DraftKings. The Hawks, while slightly more favorable with odds of +15000, are still considered long shots for the title.

The Impact of Trae Young

Trae Young, the dynamic point guard for the Atlanta Hawks, has been a thorn in the side of the Cavs throughout the season. He averaged an impressive 32.5 points per game in the four games they faced each other, including a dominant 41-point performance in a victory back in February.

The Cavs’ success in this crucial game largely depends on their ability to contain Young. If they can effectively limit his impact, their chances of winning significantly increase. However, history has shown that when the Cavs struggled to defend against Young’s pick-and-roll plays, the Hawks came out on top with a 24-point victory in their most recent meeting.

Cleveland’s head coach, JB Bickerstaff, acknowledges the importance of shutting down Young’s influence on the game, highlighting his scoring prowess, playmaking abilities, and the dangerous pick-and-roll game ran by the Hawks.

De’Andre Hunter, who had an impressive outing against the Hornets in the previous round of the Play-In Tournament, will be a key player for the Hawks alongside Young. Hunter’s aggressive scoring and impactful defense on the perimeter contribute significantly to the team’s success.

Unfortunately, the Hawks will be without two important players, John Collins and Lou Williams, due to injury. Williams is nursing a back injury, while Collins is dealing with a knuckle injury on his shooting hand and plantar fasciitis. However, the Hawks remain hopeful that Bogdan Bogdanovic, their long-range specialist, will be available despite a sprained ankle.

Will Jarrett Allen Make a Return?

The Cleveland Cavs are eagerly awaiting the potential return of their All-Star center, Jarrett Allen. Allen missed the final 19 games of the regular season due to a fractured finger, and his absence was sorely felt in their previous Play-In Tournament game against the Nets, where they struggled to contain their opponents in the paint. Allen’s availability for this crucial game is listed as questionable, and a final decision will be made just before tip-off.

The importance of Allen’s potential return cannot be overstated, as the Cavs find themselves in an elimination game where a win is necessary to advance. Having Allen back in the lineup would provide a significant boost to their chances of securing a playoff spot.

The Cavs have faced the Hawks three times already this season, resulting in three losses. However, each encounter has provided valuable lessons for the team, and Bickerstaff expresses confidence in their ability to learn from previous mistakes and improve moving forward.

In their last game against the Nets, the Cavs saw standout performances from Darius Garland, who scored 34 points, and rookie sensation Evan Mobley, who contributed 19 points with efficient shooting. Kevin Love, coming off the bench, made a significant impact with 14 points and 13 rebounds. If Allen is unable to play, Mobley will continue to fill in at center, while Love occupies the power forward position.


The battle between the Atlanta Hawks and the Cleveland Cavs for the #8 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs promises to be an intense showdown. With the opportunity to face the top-seeded Miami Heat in the first round at stake, both teams will leave it all on the court.

Containing Trae Young and adjusting defensive strategies will be key for the Cavs, as his offensive firepower has proven to be a game-changer in their previous encounters. The Hawks will be heavily reliant on Young’s scoring and playmaking abilities, especially with the absence of key players like John Collins and Lou Williams.

The potential return of Jarrett Allen could be a game-changer for the Cavs, providing them with a much-needed defensive presence in the paint. Learning from their previous losses against the Hawks and capitalizing on the performances of players like Darius Garland, Evan Mobley, and Kevin Love will be crucial for Cleveland’s success.


1. Can the winner of this game realistically challenge the #1 seed Miami Heat?

While the winner of this game will face a formidable opponent in the Miami Heat, anything is possible in the playoffs. It will undoubtedly be a challenging series, but upsets happen, and the underdog can sometimes prevail.

2. How much of an impact does Trae Young have on the Hawks’ success?

Trae Young is the engine that drives the Hawks’ offense. His scoring ability, playmaking skills, and leadership on the court are critical to the team’s success. When Young has a great game, the Hawks are a force to be reckoned with.

3. Do the Cavs have enough depth to overcome injuries and perform well in the playoffs?

Injuries can certainly pose challenges for any team, but the Cavs have shown resilience throughout the season. Their depth, combined with the performances of key players like Darius Garland and Evan Mobley, gives them a fighting chance in the playoffs.

4. How important is home-court advantage in this game?

Home-court advantage can provide an extra boost of energy and support for the home team. However, it ultimately comes down to performance on the court. Both teams will be focused on executing their game plans, regardless of where the game is played.

5. What are the expectations for the playoffs for both the Hawks and the Cavs?

The Hawks had a taste of success last season, reaching the Eastern Conference Finals. They will be aiming to build on that experience and make another deep playoff run. For the Cavs, securing a playoff spot would be a significant achievement, and they will be eager to prove themselves against the top teams in the Eastern Conference.

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Doug I. Jones

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