THE DETAILS: Cavaliers at Hawks, Wednesday, 8 p.m. Fred McLeod and Austin Carr have the call for Fox Sports Ohio.
WHAT’S AT STAKE: Nothing. The Cavaliers have clinched home-court advantage throughout the playoffs and will use tonight’s game as one final chance for some of their backups to get quality minutes. Shaquille O’Neal has been cleared to return from his thumb injury, but it’s unlikely he or LeBron James will play. With three straight wins and Boston’s loss last night in Chicago, the Hawks clinched the Eastern Conference’s third seed and will play either Miami or Milwaukee in the first round.
THE SERIES: The Cavaliers have won all three prior meetings, including a 93-88 home win for their 60th victory of the year a little less than two weeks ago. In a strange scheduling quirk, both earlier meetings this season came on back-to-back nights in late December. The Cavaliers pulled away late to win the first, 95-84, in Atlanta, then came home the next night and earned a wild, 106-101 victory, coming from as many as 17 points down.Counting last year’s playoff sweep, the Cavs have won nine straight in the series.
TIP TIME: The 8 p.m. tip is part of the NBA’s plan on the final night of the regular season that has all games tipping off either at 8 p.m. or 10:30 p.m. to combat in-game scoreboard watching and possibly yanking starters depending on how other teams in the playoff race are faring. That doesn’t do much for this game with both teams having clinched what they can, but the idea is a good one. If the Bulls beat Charlotte tonight, the Cavaliers open the playoffs with the Bulls this weekend. The Raptors need to beat the Knicks and have Charlotte beat the Bulls.
NOTES: Over the last six games, Mo Williams is shooting 54 percent and averaging 22 points per game…Daniel Gibson (personal matter) and Sebastian Telfair (upper respiratory infection) didn’t make the trip. There’s a chance one or both of them could fly to Atlanta and join their teammates today…The Cavaliers’ three-game LeBron-less losing streak ties their longest of the season.