Trae Young scored 32 of his 38 factors within the second half because the Atlanta Hawks rallied to beat the Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday and ebook the ultimate NBA Eastern Conference playoff berth.
The Hawks, who completed ninth within the East within the common season, erased a double-digit halftime deficit within the play-in contest to line up a first-round collection with Eastern Conference prime seeds Miami, with recreation one scheduled for Monday.
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It was a heartbreaking end to the season for a younger Cavaliers squad, who fell one step shy of qualifying for the post-season for the primary time since LeBron James departed the membership in 2018.
The Cavs dominated early, however Young discovered his contact within the second half and 5 Hawks gamers scored in double figures to finish the turnaround.
Further cementing himself because the NBA’s love-or-hate villain, Young then waved to the Cleveland crowd as he exited the ground.
“I felt like I was letting my team down in the first half,” mentioned Young, who had 4 turnovers together with six factors earlier than the interval.
“I was missing some shots. We were only down 10 in the halftime and I knew I needed to make some more shots for my teammates.” In reality, Young stepped up his recreation on all fronts. He scored or assisted on 43 of 56 second-half factors for Atlanta, accounting for greater than the 40 factors that Cleveland scored after the break.
Young mentioned it was simply “more motivation” when heart Clint Capela departed with a hyper-extended proper knee moments earlier than halftime.
Capela had grabbed Cavs rookie Evan Mobley from behind as Mobley was capturing, however Mobley fell again into Capela’s legs and the veteran fell to the court docket holding his knee in ache.
After officers reviewed the play the decision of a standard foul stood, however Capela was dominated out for the remainder of the competition.
“We wanted to win for him,” Young mentioned. “We know how hard he’s worked all year wanting to get in the playoffs. We hope he’s going to be able to bounce back for us.” Cleveland had jumped to a double-digit lead within the first-quarter, boosted by the three-point capturing of Lauri Markkanen who scored 17 first-half factors.
Markkanen led the Cavaliers with 16 factors and Darius Garland added 21. All-Star heart Jarrett Allen returned to Cleveland’s beginning lineup after lacking 19 video games with a damaged left finger, scoring 11 factors with three rebounds.
But with Young main the way in which the Hawks turned the tables within the third quarter, taking the lead for the primary time on a three-pointer from Young with 1:42 left within the interval.
“Nobody had to say anything to me,” mentioned Young, whose driving basket early within the fourth quarter put the Hawks up for good. “I know the work I put in, the confidence I have and I’ve got to go out and show it.”
COVID BLOW CRUSHES CLIPPERS AS PELICANS GO THROUGH
Later within the day, the Los Angeles Clippers couldn’t overcome the absence of Paul George as they fell 105-101 to the New Orleans Pelicans.
The Clippers had been with out Paul George on Saturday for the must-win play-in recreation towards New Orleans after the star entered the NBA’s coronavirus well being protocols.
Clippers president of basketball operations Lawrence Frank informed reporters that the crew discovered George had entered the protocols on Saturday morning, the Los Angeles Times reported.
He had felt unwell on Friday.
George scored a game-high 34 factors within the Clippers’ loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday within the play-in match opener.
As Frank identified, the “path” the Clippers had taken to the play-in match had been solid by their willingness to get the job executed with out George and Kawhi Leonard.
On Saturday although it proved an excessive amount of, with a 31-14 run seeing the Pelicans run away winners to ebook their spot within the playoffs for the primary time since 2018.
They will face the Phoenix Suns within the opening spherical, a tricky problem given Phoenix was far and away the most effective crew within the league this 12 months.
Brandon Ingram lifted for New Orleans early and completed the sport with 30 factors, six assists and 6 rebounds whereas CJ McCollum added 19 factors.
Larry Nance Jr. made an influence on each ends off the bench, ending the sport with 14 factors and 16 rebounds from simply 24 minutes.
For the Clippers, Reggie Jackson and Marcus Morris Sr. each had 27 factors however it was not sufficient to get L.A. dwelling.
The season will end a matter of what might have been for the Clippers, who had been crippled by accidents to star duo George and Leonard.
For New Orleans, in the meantime, all eyes might be on whether or not Zion Williamson figures at any level within the playoffs.
Williamson underwent surgical procedure to restore a fractured proper foot through the offseason and has but to determine on the court docket, though his stepfather mentioned earlier this month a return might be on the playing cards.
“I expect him to play,” Lee Anderson mentioned.
“If you were to ask Zion, I’m sure he would probably say the same thing. But with just a couple of games left, with the magnitude of what’s going on in New Orleans and the opportunity to qualify for the play-in game and possibly get into a seven-game series, that would be off the charts in the city of New Orleans. That would be a plus in New Orleans. That would be a plus for Zion with the way things are right now.
“Do I expect him to play? Certainly I do. That’s on me, though. That’s purely me. I don’t think there’s anything else that would hinder him from doing that right now.”
NBA PLAYOFF SCHEDULE
Dallas Mavericks vs. Utah Jazz
Memphis Grizzlies vs. Minnesota Timberwolves
Philadelphia 76ers vs. Toronto Raptors
Golden State Warriors vs. Denver Nuggets
Miami Heat vs. Atlanta Hawks
Boston Celtics vs. Brooklyn Nets
Milwaukee Bucks vs. Chicago Bulls
Phoenix Suns vs. New Orleans Pelicans