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

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)

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.

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