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Hawks vs Cavaliers: Trae Young’s second-half blitz leads Atlanta to NBA playoffs


An explosive second-half performance from Trae Young led the Atlanta Hawks past the Cleveland Cavaliers, 107-101, and into the NBA playoffs on Friday.

After blowing away the Charlotte Hornets in their first qualifying game on Wednesday, the Hawks’ win over the Cavaliers saw them clinch the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs and earn their ticket to face the Miami Heat. , seeded, Sunday.

With six points in the first half, Young’s slow start mirrored that of his team, which trailed 61-51 halfway through.

Humbled from the start by a raucous Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse crowd, Young got the last laugh, then a few after exploding for 32 points in the second half, his record 38 points topped off with nine assists and three rebounds.

Bogdan Bogdanovic added 19 points from the bench, while Lauri Markkanen led the Cavaliers with 26.

Only the second player in NBA history to lead the league in total points and assists in the regular season, as well as set a new franchise record for 233 three-pointers, Young’s playing heroics continue a stellar year for the 23-year-old.

It’s perhaps no wonder he’s risen to public enemy number one status on multiple road trips, but Young seems more than happy to play the bad guy.

At the end of the match, Young turned around and waved to the home crowd in Cleveland, before later Tweeter a photo of the moment with the caption “Let. Em. To know.”

Asked about the hostile reception he received, Young smiled. “It’s okay, you see what jersey I put on,” he told NBA TV Live, lifting his number 11 jersey.

“They also tried a lot of FU chants…I think they shouted them a little too early,” Young added.

Although unhappy with the way he started the match, Young admitted that he liked situations where he had his back against the wall.

“It’s the childlike imagination that comes out of me,” Young said. “It’s those times you dream of when time is of the essence as a kid when you’re in the gym.

“In times of pressure, in big games like this, you are ready for them.”

Hawks coach Nate McMillan agreed, citing Young’s confidence as key to his second-half flourish.

“Trae has great confidence in his game, his abilities and he continued to believe in it,” McMillan told reporters.

“I didn’t see any panic in his game. He came out in the second half, remained aggressive. Those shots started to fall, the same shots he was taking in the first half, they started to fall in the second half,” he added.

In the other deciding playoff, the New Orleans Pelicans triumphed 105-101 over the Los Angeles Clippers to clinch the eighth seed in the Western Conference playoffs.

Brandon Ingram dunks against the Clippers.

Brandon Ingram scored a game-high 30 points to help book the Pelicans’ spot, their win rewarded with a daunting matchup against the league’s top regular-season team, the Phoenix Suns.


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