The #8 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs is at stake and the ninth-place Atlanta Hawks host the 10th-place Charlotte Hornets in the Play-In Tournament on Wednesday evening in Atlanta. This game will feature two of the NBA’s most talented young point guards, Trae Young from the Hawks, and LaMelo Ball from the Hornets.

Trae Young from the Atlanta Hawks drives to the basket against LaMelo Ball of the Charlotte Hornets. The two young guards will meet again in the NBA Play-In Tournament. (Image: Getty)

The way the Play-In Tournament works is that the ninth or 10th-place team has to win two games to qualify for the #8 seed. The winner of the Hawks/Hornets will meet the Cleveland Cavs on Friday to determine the #8 seed in the Eastern Conference.

2022 NBA Play-In Tournament Preview – Eastern Conference
Charlotte Hornets (43-29) at Atlanta Hawks (43-29)
  • Tip-Off: 7 pm ET
  • Location: State Farm Arena, Atlanta, GA
  • Point Spread: ATL -5.5
  • Total: 235.5 o/u
  • Moneyline: CLT +175 / ATL -210

The eighth-place Cavs lost to the seventh-place Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday night for a chance to secure the #7 seed. The Nets snagged the #7 seed, but the Cavs have one more chance to qualify for the Eastern Conference playoffs as the #8 seed.

The Hornets are long shots to win the 2022 NBA championship at +50000 odds, while the Hawks are slightly better at +18000.

Another deep run for Trae Young, Hawks?

Last postseason, the Hawks won the first two rounds to secure a spot in the Eastern Conference finals. They eventually lost to the Milwaukee Bucks, but Young established himself as a legit playoff star. He relished the role as the villain when the Hawks knocked out the New York Knicks and everyone inside Madison Square Garden booed and jeered him like a heel from a WWE wrestling match.

“We’ve still got a chance to make the playoffs,” said Young. “We’ve got to take advantage of it.”

“Our destiny is in our hands,” added Hawks center Clint Capela.

Young averaged 28.4 ppg and finished fourth overall in the chase for the NBA scoring title. He also shot a career-best 38.6% from 3-pont range this season.

The Hawks don’t have John Collins for the Play-In Tournament because he’s nursing knuckle and foot injuries. Expect wingman and sharpshooter Bogdan Bogdanovic (15.1 ppg) to help pick up the scoring slack. He’s shooting 36.8% from 3-point land this season, but has been on a heater, knocking down 44.6% of his treys over the last 10 games of the regular season.

The Hawks come into the Play-In Tournament as a -5.5 favorite. They were 37-45 ATS this season, making them the eighth-worst betting team in the NBA.

LaMelo Ball ready for primetime

LaMelo Ball won the Rookie of the Year last season and now he’s ready to take the Hornets to the next level with a spot in the postseason. The Hornets lost in the first-ever Play-In Tournament last season, but they’re hoping to qualify this year.

Miles Bridges leads the young Hornets with 20.2 points and 7.1 rebounds per game. Ball is the team’s second-best scorer, averaging 20.1 points, 7.6 assists, and 6.7 rebounds per game. Terry Rozier (19.3 ppg) is the savvy veteran on the roster and Ball’s backcourt mate.

“We feel like we can definitely win and sneak into the playoffs,” said Rozier.

“One game at a time,” said head coach James Borrego. “It’s like March Madness in that regard. Win and advance.”

The Hornets won’t have forward Gordon Hayward, who is out indefinitely with a foot injury.

Betting-wise, the Hornets are a +5.5 underdog. They finished the season 45-35-2 ATS for the sixth-best betting team in the NBA.