After winning 60 games in the regular season the Atlanta Hawks have made their first appearance in the Conference Finals. LeBron James is back in the Conference Finals for the fifth straight year.
There was a great pace to the game. Both teams did a good job of moving the ball around and getting open looks. Cleveland was sloppy with the ball early on and had six turnovers in the first quarter. Kyrie Irving did not move great and had two uncharacteristic turnovers. He seemed hesitant and didn’t attack off the dribble.
The Hawks only committed one turnover and shot 61% in the opening quarter. Jeff Teague attacked the injured Kyrie Irving and got to the basket at will. He put up nine points in the quarter.
The Cavaliers settled down on the defensive end but only shot 34% in the first quarter. They dominated the boards in the first quarter 15-6. The Cavs had seven offensive rebounds; four of those belonged to Tristan Thompson.
LeBron James had four assists but picked up two quick fouls and had to sit down. The Hawks had a 26-20 lead heading into the 2nd quarter.
Cleveland opened up the 2nd quarter with a 13-5 run to tie the game up. J.R. Smith led the way early on for the Cavs by scoring 9 points in the quarter. He knocked down three quick 3 pointers. Atlanta was sloppy with the ball in the quarter committing five turnovers.
Atlanta moved the ball well but shot poorly from 3 point range. They were 2-10 from downtown in the first half. Jeff Teague picked up where he left off in the first quarter. He scored eight points in the 2nd and had a game high 17 points in the first half.
He was able to drive pass any defender and get into the lane with ease. The Cavaliers did a poor job of stopping dribble penetration. Al Horford was able to keep Mozgov away from the paint and knocked down some jumpers.
LeBron James got it going by attacking the basket and finishing with jump hooks. He scored 14 points in the quarter and 16 in the half. Cleveland only grabbed one offensive rebound in the quarter as they did a better job of hitting shots.
Despite being dominated on the boards 24-14 the Hawks went into halftime tied at 51.
The 3rd quarter was not fun to watch for either team. The Cavaliers had a few turnovers to start while the Hawks went six minutes without hitting a field goal.
In a combination of good Cavalier defense and poor passing by the Hawks, Atlanta only scored 16 points on 23.5% shooting and had five turnovers in the 3rd quarter. Kyle Korver finally got open to knock down a three pointer but that was the only open look he got.
Cleveland was once again led by J.R. Smith and LeBron James. Smith continued his hot shooting by knocking down two more 3 pointers. LeBron managed to score six points despite spraining his ankle on a cameraman. Cleveland led 74-67 heading into the 4th.
J.R. Smith drilled two more 3 pointers to start the 4th quarter. Korver overplayed him on the next play and he found Tristan Thompson for an alley. The Cavaliers opened the 4th quarter on an 11-0 run to extend their lead to 18 points.
Atlanta quickly answered with a 7-0 run. Atlanta was never able to cut into the lead. DeMarre Carroll went down with 4:59 left in the 4th quarter as he tried to euro step pass his defender. It was a non-contact injury and he had to be helped off the court.
Cleveland extended their lead to 16 points and then they stopped playing offense. They went to a LeBron isolation heavy basketball. Most possessions ended with a James shot or a turnover. Of course this style of play allowed the Hawks to come back.
Atlanta kept playing and went on a 13-1 to get back into the game. LeBron finally finished the game off with a dunk. He was only 2-8 in the 4th quarter including 1-5 in the paint.
J.R. Smith hit a Cleveland franchise record 8 three pointers as he scored all of the Cavs bench points with 28. LeBron James finished the game with 31 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists. He is now the leader in NBA history of games with 30 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists. Cleveland shot 38 %( 10-26) from downtown.
Jeff Teague led the Hawks with 27 points. Al Horford added 16 points and Millsap had 13 points. After having only one turnover in the first quarter the Hawks finished with 12 turnovers for the game. Atlanta shot 17% (4-23) from downtown.
Cleveland won the battle on the boards 49-36. Tristan Thompson and Timofey Mozgov combined for 24 points and 22 rebounds. The Cavs had 20 assists while the Hawks had 19. Cleveland won the game 97-89.
The next game is on Friday Night.