NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Friday, April 4th (All times Eastern)
Cleveland Cavaliers (31-45) at Atlanta Hawks (32-42), 7:30 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Atlanta Hawks are in a huge fight to make the postseason, needing every win they can get, starting Friday night at home against the Cleveland Cavaliers, a team that can still catch them for the last playoff spot.
The Hawks have lost seven of their last eight and fell percentage points behind the New York Knicks for the eighth and final seed in the Eastern Conference playoff race. (New York hosts the Washington Wizards on Friday night.)
Atlanta's seventh loss in eight games came Wednesday night at home against the Chicago Bulls. The Hawks fell, 105-92, to lose for the fourth time in their last five home games.
"We still feel like we have a chance. Still got a lot more games left, try to tough it out and see what happens," All-Star forward Paul Millsap said.
Millsap had 22 points and 11 boards for Atlanta, followed by Jeff Teague, who finished with 21 points and eight assists. Kyle Korver chipped in 12 points and no other Hawks player scored in double figures.
The Hawks have five of their last eight remaining games at home. Atlanta is 21-15 as the host this season.
The Cavaliers have won two straight and five of their last six. With all of the focus on the Hawks and Knicks duking it out for the final spot in the postseason, the Cavs are just two games out.
Kyrie Irving returned from an eight-game absence and scored 17 points to go with eight assists and six rebounds to lead the Cavaliers to a 119-98 drubbing of the Orlando Magic on Wednesday.
Irving suffered a biceps injury in Cleveland's loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on March 16.
"I felt good. I was just really excited to be back out there with my teammates. We just had a great rhythm," said Irving. "I wasn't trying to force it I just tried to let the game come to me and play off my teammates the best I can."
Dion Waiters poured in a game-high 26 points while Spencer Hawes and Tristan Thompson donated 20 points apiece for the Cavaliers. Jarrett Jack finished with 13 as Cleveland shot 57.7 percent from the field and 50 percent from 3- point range.
The Hawks have won both meetings this season with the Cavs, three in a row overall and 11 of the last 13. Atlanta has won six of the last seven as the host in this series.
04/04 10:22:58 ET