The final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference will be on the line on Friday as the Atlanta Hawks travel to Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse to meet the Cleveland Cavaliers. The winner of this play-in tournament elimination game will clinch the No. 8 seed in the east bracket and will meet the No. 1 Miami Heat.
Cleveland didn’t have much for Kyrie Irving and Brooklyn on Tuesday, falling 115-108 in its first play-in matchup at the Barclays Center. The Cavaliers gave up 40 points in the first quarter and had to effectively play catch-up for the rest of the game. The team was still absent All-Star forward Jarrett Allen, who is still trying to get back on the court after missing over a month with a fractured finger. Darius Garland dropped 34 points and five assists in the loss.
Atlanta blew out Charlotte in the first play-in matchup on Wednesday, ending the Hornets’ season with a 132-103 drubbing. The Hawks truly pulled away in the outset of the second half where they dropped 42 points in the third quarter. Trae Young put up 24 points and 11 assists in the win.
Atlanta enters this game as a 1.5-point favorite on DraftKings Sportsbook. The total currently sits at 223.5.
Hawks vs. Cavaliers, 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
Pick against the spread: Hawks -1.5
Atlanta should be able to walk into Cleveland and cover for two reasons.
The first being that the Hawks took three out of four games from the Cavs during the regular season and each victory came by at least three points. The second being that the experience of going to the Eastern Conference finals last season should make them more equipped to perform in a pressure cooker situation like this. On the other side, you have a young Cleveland team where Kevin Love and Rajon Rondo are the only veterans who know what to expect. Lay it with the Hawks here.
Over/Under: Over 223.5
The natural inclination for a high-stakes elimination game like this is to take the under. However, the Hawks are going to play loose and may get on enough a role offensively to push the over.
Player Prop: Trae Young over 3.5 threes (+130)
Heading into tonight, Young has been averaging just over three threes a game over the course of eight games. We’ll most likely see another offensive explosion from the All-Star in this elimination showdown, so take the over here.
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