CLEVELAND – With improved defense and a stellar second half from Trae Young, the Hawks rallied to beat the Cavaliers, 107-101, in a must-win play-in game Friday at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse.

Next up, the Hawks will begin the playoffs in Miami Sunday.

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Below are some takeaways from the win:

1. With this win, the second of two straight must-win play-in tournament games, the Hawks have officially nabbed the Eastern Conference’s No. 8 seed. They will advance to face the No. 1 Miami Heat in the first round of the playoffs, playing Game 1 Sunday and Game 2 Tuesday, both on the road. It’s a tough scheduling draw, with a quick turnaround and a 1 p.m. tip-off Sunday.

2. This game started out dicey for the Hawks, who just couldn’t get much going in the first half. The Cavaliers opened up 6-for-7 from 3-point range, most of those open looks, to go up 26-14 in the first quarter. Trailing by 10 at the break, Hawks coach Nate McMillan pointed to the team’s “Believe” mantra from last year, which followed them as underdogs all the way to the conference finals, in his halftime message. The Cavaliers ultimately went 36.1% from 3-point range, only making three 3′s in the second half.

Combined ShapeCaption
Atlanta Hawks coach Nate McMillan yells to players during the first half of the team's NBA play-in basketball game against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday, April 15, 2022, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Nick Cammett)

Credit: AP

Atlanta Hawks coach Nate McMillan yells to players during the first half of the team's NBA play-in basketball game against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday, April 15, 2022, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Nick Cammett)

Credit: AP

Combined ShapeCaption
Atlanta Hawks coach Nate McMillan yells to players during the first half of the team's NBA play-in basketball game against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday, April 15, 2022, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Nick Cammett)

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

3. After a slow, Young came alive with 16 points and five assists in the third quarter to tie the game at 84 heading into the fourth. Once he caught a rhythm, the game completely shifted in the Hawks’ favor, with Atlanta leading 100-94 after a 3-pointer by Young with 3:38 to play. The Cavs battled back, but never reclaimed the lead. Young had six points at halftime but finished with 38 overall, with nine assists.

“He continued to believe,” Hawks coach Nate McMillan said. “I didn’t see any panic in his play. He came out the second half, remained aggressive, those shots started to fall. Those same shots he was taking in the first half. ... Defensively, he tried to pick it up on the defensive end of the floor. Gave us a much-needed lift in that second half.”

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4. In addition to Young taking over on offense in the second half, the Hawks buckled down on defense and limiting the Cavs to 40 points in the half after giving up 61 in the first, with backup guard Delon Wright a difference-maker on that end. Wing Bogdan Bogdanovic came off the bench and kept the Hawks in this game when not much else was going right, adding 10 points in the second quarter and 19 points overall, plus five rebounds, two assists and three steals.

5. Clint Capela, pivotal to the Hawks’ success in this game given Cleveland’s size and the absence of teammate John Collins (right ring finger sprain/right foot strain), crumpled to the court in pain just before halftime after fouling Evan Mobley, with Mobley falling on Capela’s knee. Capela was helped back to the Hawks’ locker room, walking extremely slowly and gingerly, and was ruled out with a right knee hyperextension. It’s an extremely tough break for Capela, who had gotten healthier after battling Achilles pain to start the season and was starting to play more like his dominant self from last season’s run. Backup center Onyeka Okongwu played some good minutes in Capela’s absence.

Hawks 107, Cavs 101

Stat of the game: 40 (what the Hawks held the Cavs to in the second half, winning the half 56-40)

Star of the game: Young (scored 32 points of his 38 points in the second half to carry the Hawks to victory)

Quotable: “I think this team is built for moments like this.” (McMillan on Atlanta rising to the occasion)