Cleveland Cavaliers Sweep Atlanta Hawks To Make NBA Finals
Lebron James’ Cleveland Cavaliers earned their second ever trip to the NBA Finals by destroying the Atlanta Hawks 118-88.
Cleveland Cavaliers Sweep
The one-seeded Atlanta Hawks, who won a team record 60 games this season, did not have an answer for the Cavs’ superstar. Lebron James nearly became the first player to average a triple-double in a playoff series, as he scored 23 points with nine rebound and seven assists in only 29 minutes of game four: he would finish the series with 30.3 PPG, eleven RPG and 9.3 APG.
And besides Sunday’s close 114-111 victory, the Cavs easily skated by the Hawks, showing their dominance without two of Cleveland’s big three: Kevin Love was injured during the Celtics series and Kyrie Irving only played two of the four games. But last night, he mustered up an incredible 16 points, five assists and four rebounds in just 22 minutes.
And this is not even talking about the brilliant play from J.R. Smith, Matthew Dellavedova and Iman Shumpert, who all stepped up in a major way.
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This is only the second time that the Cavs made the NBA Finals: they last made it in 2007 with James, but was then swept by the San Antonio Spurs. Cleveland is currently second on the list of U.S. cities with longest sports title droughts — 51 years without a title. They are only eclipsed by San Diego — 52 years.
“I understood what these people were going through, the people here,” James commented on the drought. “Not only in Cleveland but Northeast Ohio and all over the world who love and bleed wine and gold. To be at this point tonight, it’s very emotional.”
As for the Atlanta Hawks, this was an atrocious series for the team that was supposed to turn a corner this postseason: they have made eight straight playoff appearances, but have never made the NBA Finals in that time span.
And Kyle Korver’s broken ankle and Al Horford’s game three ejection perfectly summed up this series for the Hawks that ultimately seemed out of it. In game four, Paul Millsap only garnered 16 points and ten rebounds in 31 minutes of play and Jeff Teague led the team with 17 points. On the other hand, Horford was completely shut out with only two points in 29 minutes.
And worst of all, a team that became known for spreading the court and shooting threes — they ranked second in the league, only behind Golden State Warriors, with a .380 three-point shooting percentage — finished the playoffs ranked eleventh with an abysmal .317 three-point percentage.
Still, Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer remains optimistic about this series sweep. “I’m proud of our group,” he stated in the post-game conference. “In the playoffs you learn and grow a lot, including a night like tonight. It’s not something anybody wants, but I think we’ve always talked about learning and growing each day, each experience. I think throughout the playoffs we’ve done that. We’ll learn from tonight and this series and we’ll be better going forward.”
In the west, the Warriors currently lead the Rockets 3-1 and will attempt to close out the series tonight.
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