CLEVELAND: Breaking down Cleveland’s 118-88 series-clinching victory over the Atlanta Hawks in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals:
The Cavaliers overwhelmed the Hawks, and it was hardly a game from the opening tip. Cleveland grabbed an early lead, took a 24-14 advantage late in the first quarter and cruised to an easy sweep.
It is Cleveland’s first trip to the Finals since 2007, and LeBron James’ fifth consecutive Finals appearance. He joins a list of former Boston Celtics players to reach five consecutive Finals, but he is just the first to do it with different teams.
James had 23 points, nine rebounds and seven assists, and for the four-game series, he averaged 30.1 points, 11 rebounds and 9.3 assists.
Cavs guard Kyrie Irving (tendinitis left knee, strained right foot) played in Game 4, his first appearance since Game 1 of the conference finals. Irving played 22 minutes, scored 16 points and looked like he is getting closer to his regular self. He scored driving to the basket and he scored from the perimeter. That’s a good sign for the Cavaliers who will need that from Irving in the Finals. The Cavs can give Irving rest and treatment for almost a week before traveling again.
Cleveland shot 51.7% from the field in the first half and 57.1% on threes in the first quarter and had a 20-point lead in the first half and a 59-42 lead at halftime. The game was over early. Cavs big men Timofey Mozgov (14 points, seven rebounds) and Tristan Thompson (16 points, 11 rebounds) gave the Hawks trouble. J.R. Smith his second consecutive double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds.
The East’s No. 1 seed with 60 regular-season victories, four All-Stars and coach of the year Mike Budenholzer were just not the same efficient team in the playoffs. Injuries hurt in the Eastern Conference finalsDeMarre Carroll sprained his left knee in Game 1, Kyle Korver sustained a season-ending injury in Game 2, and it’s safe bet Millsap (shoulder) and Horford (finger) were not 100%. They also were without Thabo Sefolosha.
The Cavs await the winner of the Houston Rockets-Golden State Warriors Western Conference finals. The Warriors lead 3-1 and can wrap up the series Wednesday night. Game 1 of the Finals is June 4 and the Western Conference representative has home-court advantage.
|LeBron James’ last five final appearances|
|2011||Miami Heat||Dallas Mavericks||Lost|
|2012||Miami Heat||Oklahoma City Thunder||Won|
|2013||Miami Heat||San Antonio Spurs||Won|
|2014||Miami Heat||San Antonio Spurs||Lost|
Cleveland Cavaliers 118 beat Atlanta Hawks 88