CLEVELAND (AP) — Trae Young scored 32 of his 38 points in the second half and the Atlanta Hawks outlasted losing center Clint Capela with a knee injury to beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 107-101 in the play-in on Friday night. the night and earn the No. 8 playoff seed.
Young started off slow for the second game in a row, but “Ice Trae,” as he imagines himself, got hot when it mattered most.
The All-Star shooting guard scored 16 points in the third quarter to rally the Hawks from a 10-point halftime deficit, and added another 16 in the fourth to finish off the Cavs, whose inexperience was on display throughout the season. second half.
Bogdan Bogdanovic added 19 points for Atlanta, which will play No. 1 seed Miami in the first round. Game 1 is Sunday in South Florida.
The Hawks, who reached the conference finals a year ago, may have to move on without Capela. The 6-foot-10 center hyperextended his right knee late in the first half, had to be helped off the ground and was unable to return.
Lauri Markkanen scored 26 and Darius Garland 21 for the young Cavaliers, whose unexpected season narrowly missed a playoff spot.
Cleveland hasn’t been to the playoffs since 2018, and the Cavs haven’t been to the postseason without LeBron James on their roster since 1998.
As if to add insult to injury, James tweeted an ice cube emoji in the closing seconds, a nod to Young, as the Hawks were wrapping up Cleveland’s season.
Buoyed by a rowdy towel-waving crowd at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, the Cavs were in position to move forward and played well over long stretches. However, Cleveland’s offense stalled in the third quarter and the Cavs had no defensive answer for Young.
As the final seconds ticked down, Young waved goodbye as the Cleveland crowd thinned and headed for the exits.
Those who stayed saluted the Cavs, who weren’t expected to go this far after winning just 22 games last season. While they have been relegated to lottery picks and losses since James left after a four-year run to the NBA Finals four years ago, the future in Cleveland is bright.
With the season on the line, Cleveland received a huge emotional and defensive boost with the return of All-Star center Jarrett Allen, who had missed the previous 19 games with a broken finger on his left hand. Allen finished with 11 points.
The Hawks were in big trouble late in the third quarter when Young finally warmed up.
Ignoring some vulgar chants from the Cleveland fans, the dazzling guard made a pair of 3-pointers and scored Atlanta’s last 12 points in the fourth as the Hawks closed out on a 17-8 run in the final 3:48 to draw 84-84. up to the last 12 minutes.
Markkanen hit four 3-pointers and Cleveland hit six shots from distance in the first 12 minutes to open an 11-point lead after one.
Atlanta helped with sloppy play and committed seven turnovers, four by Young.
But once he started taking care of the ball and taking shots, there was no stopping him.