Atlanta Hawks vs. Cleveland Cavaliers Pick & Prediction MARCH 6th 2024

The Atlanta Hawks and the visiting Cleveland Cavaliers are playing with depleted rosters, but both teams enter their Wednesday matchup with confidence following victories on Tuesday.

Cleveland, without key players Donovan Mitchell, Max Strus and Evan Mobley (who exited with a left ankle injury), took down the NBA-best Boston Celtics 105-104 after wiping out a 22-point, fourth-quarter deficit.

Reserve forward Dean Wade erupted for 20 of his career-high 23 points in the final quarter, sparking the improbable comeback victory.

“This ranks pretty high,” Wade said of performance. “It felt good. In the fourth quarter, the rim looked really big. …

“We just never stopped fighting. We’ve got full belief in ourselves and each other. Tonight really showed that no matter what happens, we’re going to play hard and play together.”

Wade was averaging just 5.1 points per game before his scoring outburst off the bench, but he filled a much-needed offensive hole for the injury-plagued Cavaliers.

Mitchell, who leads Cleveland with an average of 28 points per game, hasn’t played since Feb. 28 due to a bone bruise on his left knee. He received a platelet-rich plasma injection to aid the healing process, and he will be sidelined for at least two more games.

Strus (12.2 points per game) sat out Tuesday because of a right knee strain.

Mobley was the most recent addition to the injury report, as he left the game in the third quarter and was later seen on crutches.

“We’ve been in situations where we were short-handed, we’ve been down, but it seems like every single time it happens, somebody else finds a way to step up,” Cavaliers coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “Our guys won’t quit.”

Similarly, Atlanta has battled health and availability issues in recent weeks. Star point guard Trae Young last played Feb. 23, when he tore a ligament in his left hand. Young, who averages 26.4 points and 10.8 assists per game, will miss at least three more weeks as he recovers from surgery.

Atlanta center Onyeka Okongwu (10.2 points, 7.0 rebounds per game) has been dealing with a sprained toe and has missed seven straight games.

Nonetheless, the Hawks picked up a 116-100 road victory over the New York Knicks on Tuesday, a contest in which Atlanta never trailed.

The Hawks led 33-15 after one quarter, but the Knicks rallied to tie the game late in the third quarter. Atlanta scored the last five points in the third, then led by eight before New York again pulled within four twice in the fourth period. Each time, the Hawks had an answer.

“We really executed well down the stretch on both ends,” Hawks coach Quin Snyder said. “We did give up a couple threes, but they were contested, which has been a point of emphasis for us.”

Atlanta breakout third-year player Jalen Johnson collected 26 points, nine rebounds and seven assists in the win. De’Andre Hunter added 22 points off the bench.

“(De’Andre) came in just ready to shoot,” Snyder said. “I thought he mixed it up really well in the drive. …

“Jalen’s defensive rebounding is really important for us, and his ability to play-make, as well. Obviously we’re excited with how both of those guys played.”

The Cavaliers will be shooting for a four-game season sweep of the Hawks, having won the first three matchups by an average of 17.3 points.

–Field Level Media

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