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Hawks soaring, Cavs skidding ahead of key matchup

Without Paul George, Clippers carry on vs. Timberwolves

Hawks soaring, Cavs skidding ahead of key matchup

The Cleveland Cavaliers and the Hawks both have the playoffs on their minds ahead of their Thursday meeting in Atlanta.

The Cavaliers (42-34), currently the seventh-place team in the Eastern Conference, are trying to catch the Toronto Raptors and escape the play-in tournament.

Cleveland took a 120-112 loss to the visiting Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday to fall two games behind the Raptors, who beat the visiting Minnesota Timberwolves 125-102. The Cavaliers have lost four of their past five contests.

The Hawks, sitting in 10th place, have their eyes on catching the eighth-place Brooklyn Nets and the ninth-place Charlotte Hornets. Atlanta beat the host Oklahoma City Thunder 136-118 on Wednesday for its third straight win. The Hawks trail Charlotte by a half-game and Brooklyn by one game.

The Hawks lead the season series with the Cavaliers 2-1, having won the past two matchups, most recently 124-116 in Atlanta on Feb. 15 when Trae Young…

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