Hawks-Cavaliers Preview

The Cavaliers squandered a chance to lock up home-court advantage for the Eastern Conference playoffs last time out and will face a motivated team when they return to Cleveland.

The Atlanta Hawks will not only try to avenge an overtime loss to the Cavaliers that opened this month, but they'll look to move one step closer to a second straight Southeast Division title Monday night.

Cleveland (56-24) closed in on securing the East's No. 1 seed with a 109-80 rout of Milwaukee on Tuesday, the opener to a three-game trip against Central Division foes. The Cavaliers, though, couldn't claim another victory the rest of the way.

More from FoxSports

They fell 123-109 to Indiana on Wednesday and 105-102 to now-eliminated Chicago on Saturday when J.R. Smith missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer.

"It's always disappointing to lose. We wanted to come here and play well, which we did," said forward LeBron James, who had 33 points after resting against the Pacers. "The fourth quarter was kind of challenging for the lineup that we had in there, but we still had an opportunity."

Toronto remained in contention for the top spot with a 93-89 win in New York on Sunday and owns the tiebreaker over Cleveland by winning two of this season's three matchups.

The Cavaliers can alleviate any pressure with their seventh consecutive win against the Hawks (48-32), including last year's sweep in the East finals. Cleveland bounced back after blowing a 21-point lead in the first half April 1 to prevail 110-108 in overtime in Atlanta.

James had 29 points, a season-high 16 rebounds and nine assists to lead the Cavaliers, who shot 39.8 percent. The Hawks finished at 40 percent.

He finished two assists shy of a triple-double in a 109-97 home victory Nov. 21.

Paul Millsap scored 29 points for Atlanta in the latest matchup, which he supplanted as his season high with 31 in a 118-107 victory over Boston on Saturday. Jeff Teague had 28 points against the Cavaliers and is averaging 23.8 in four games this month.

Atlanta also clinched the season series over fourth-place Boston and perhaps an important tiebreaker in the race for home-court advantage in the opening round.

"Paul Millsap with a monster game, obviously he was special. I think other guys stepped up down the stretch," coach Mike Budenholzer said after his team's home finale. "(The Celtics are) very good so to beat them in a game like this at home. It's a good test for us. We have just got to keep building."

The Hawks would have had an opportunity to clinch the Southeast title in this game, but Miami won 118-96 against Orlando on Sunday. Atlanta is one game ahead of the Heat with two games remaining and is two up on Charlotte.

Miami owns the tiebreaker over the Hawks with its 3-1 season series victory. Atlanta, which closes the season Wednesday in Washington, hasn't won back-to-back division crowns since claiming five in a row from 1957-61 as the St. Louis Hawks.

"Cleveland is going to be a tough game. Washington is going to be tough. I think it's important that we step up to the challenge that's been presented to us," Millsap said.

Iman Shumpert and Mo Williams are expected to remain out for the Cavaliers after missing the loss to the Bulls because of ailing knees.