The Cleveland Cavaliers had their season on the line when taking on the Atlanta Hawks Friday and it did not end the way they wanted. After entering the half with a 61-51 lead, it was a less than stellar second half for the Cavs.
Once Atlanta tied the game at 86 just over two and half minutes into the 4th the game was all but over. The scales were tipped in the Hawks favor at that point and the Cavs fate was sealed. Atlanta outscored Cleveland 56-40 over the final two quarters leading to a slim six-point Cavs point loss.
Atlanta’s Trae Young was the difference for the Hawks in this game. Young finished with a game-high 38 points on 13-25 from the field and 8-9 from the charity stripe. While Darius Garland did finish with 21 points and nine assists, his 9-27 shooting performance and 1-7 from deep was an issue. Comparing Young’s 52% shooting to Garland’s 33% on a similar amount of attempts from the field is an intriguing exercise. Young is an established star player in the league while Garland is on the rise, a performance such as this will only help the young Cavaliers guard grow as a player.
Cleveland’s leading scorer in the contest was Lauri Markkanen which is rarely a good thing. Markkanen needs to be the tertiary scorer on a competitive team and with a team-high 26 points on 10-17 shooting (6-12 3PT) that was not the case.
Evan Mobley had an impressive postseason debut, finishing with 18 points, eight rebounds, five assists, and two blocks. Mobley made quite the impression with this performance and has put the league on notice.
Perhaps one of the more confusing aspects of this game was that Kevin Love only played 10 minutes. Love was one of the more productive players for the Cavaliers this season and may have even garnered sixth man of the year consideration. This was a game that JB Bickerstaff should have leaned on him more not less.
Cleveland has a bright future and this is only the beginning for this young Cavaliers team.