The Cleveland Cavaliers are locked into the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs as they head into their regular-season finale, but they still have some milestones within reach.
The Cavs try to notch their 50th victory of the season and extend their home winning streak to 11 games when they meet the Atlanta Hawks.
Cleveland has not won 50 games in a season since going 54-28 in 1992-93, and hasn’t won 11 straight home games since a 12-game run from Jan. 16-March 16, 1993.
“At this point, not a lot of guys in their career win 50 games, so that’s always a plus,” Cavs guard Larry Hughes said. “But staying healthy is definitely more important. It would be nice to get it done, but you don’t want to sacrifice what we’ve worked all season for.”
Cleveland has not been to the playoffs since 1998, and hasn’t had home-court advantage in a postseason series since 1996. It lost both of those series, though, and has not advanced to the second round of the playoffs since 1993.
Preparing to be at full strength for the playoffs, the Cavs rested LeBron James in their 93-88 win at Boston on Monday night. James sprained his left ankle in last Wednesday’s loss to Detroit, and Cleveland is 2-0 without him in the lineup.
Hughes injured his right hand in the first quarter against the Celtics, but had 21 points, six assists and five steals. Cleveland was without Hughes for 45 games because of a fractured right middle finger before he returned to the lineup April 4.
Forward Drew Gooden left the game early in the third quarter with a left groin strain, but his injury is not considered serious.
“If we really needed him to, he could have gone back in the game,” Cavs coach Mike Brown said. “It’s a Catch-22 because you’ve got to play your guys. But you just hope you don’t have to play anybody over 35 minutes a game in this situation.”
Cleveland has won eight of the last nine meetings with the Hawks, with the only loss over that span coming at home on Dec. 13.
Atlanta beat Milwaukee 120-114 on Saturday to end an 11-game road losing streak, and followed that up with a 103-100 win over Miami on Tuesday thanks to Tyronn Lue’s 3-pointer with 8.3 seconds left.
The victory doubled the Hawks’ win total from last season, when they finished with the NBA’s worst record at 13-69.
Atlanta can avoid finishing tied for last place in the Southeast Division with a win in this game or if Charlotte loses to Philadelphia.