Atlanta Hawks
Photo: SI

On Wednesday, Atlanta Hawks disposed of Charlotte (132-103) in the playoffs, while New Orleans dismissed San Antonio (113-103).

Atlanta, the easy winner of Charlotte (132-103) on Wednesday, and New Orleans, which has dismissed San Antonio (113-103), will play their qualification for the NBA playoffs Friday, respectively, in Cleveland and the Clippers, in two last decisive playoff games.

The Hawks, finalists of the Eastern Conference in 2021, have never trembled against the Hornets, whom they dominated almost from start to finish, counting up to 33 points in the last quarter.

After a first period next to his sneakers (8 pts, 3/13 shooting, 3 lost balls), Trae Young found his compass in the 3rd quarter, his fourteen points contributing to his breakaway.

He nevertheless finished on a mediocre 8/24 (1/7 from long distance) who made 24 points in total, embellished with ten assists. “It took me a little while to get going, but my teammates did a job to compensate.

We have a lot of guys who can take the game to their account, at any time of a game,” commented the point guard.

His lieutenants were more consistent, like DeAndre Hunter (22 pts, 7 rbds) and Clint Capela, dominating in the racket (15 pts, 17 rbds, 3 counters).

Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot also contributed to the collective effort (8 pts, 5 rbds in sixteen minutes). Opposite LaMelo Ball, clumsy (7/23 for 26 pts, 7 assists), did what he could. But he missed a little bit of everything in Charlotte to hope for a better fate. Their season, therefore, logically ends there.

For the Hawks, half the way is done, and they will have to chain a second success with the Cavs, who will play their joker after the defeat conceded Tuesday in Brooklyn. The winner of this match will then challenge Miami, seeded No. 1, in the first round of the playoffs.

Last for Popovich?

In the West, New Orleans also easily took the measure of San Antonio, which woke up too late to make up for a delay that peaked at 21 units in the 3rd quarter.

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CJ McCollum was the great architect of the Louisiana victory, as he finished as the top scorer with 32 points, including 27 in the first period alone (7 assists, 6 rbds).

Brandon Ingram (27 pts) was the one who put the Pelicans back in the money-time, with two important baskets that calmed the Spurs’ comeback desires, back to -6, in the wake of Devin Vassell (23 pts, 7/13 behind the arc).

The holidays now await the Texas team, which had the merit of fighting to hang the playoffs at the expense of LeBron James’ Lakers, which doubled in the final stretch.

What about coach Gregg Popovich? The next few days will tell if the time for retirement has come at 73, as at the end of every season in recent years.

The next challenge is expected Friday in Los Angeles for the Pelicans, where they will face Paul George’s Clippers. At stake: a first-round berth where the opponent will be Phoenix, simply the regular season’s best team.

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