This is the best start the Cavaliers could’ve asked for. After powering their way to a sweep of the Pistons, they rained threes through four games to sweep the Hawks for the second time in as many series. The final was 100-99, and the Cavaliers will now patiently wait for the winner of the Toronto/Miami series which Miami leads 2-1.
The Hawks came out and punched the Cavs in the jaw, something that coach Lue was expecting, and his team was able to compete in the quarter. Atlanta’s Paul Millsap was a huge driver of the team’s 36-point outburst as he scored 15 on 5/6 shooting and abused Kevin Love in the post; Tristan Thompson got charged with two early fouls and spent most of the quarter on the bench. LeBron James and Kyrie Irving, however, were able to get hot and had eight and seven points, respectively, to lead the Cavs to a 27-point quarter.
Cleveland took the scoring advantage in the second quarter, and Love had nine of their 29 points on 3/5 from three. Iman Shumpert came off the bench and had eight quick points, and Irving had seven points and four assists because Atlanta kept doubling him on the pick-and-pop, leaving shooters open. The Hawks had 22 points themselves but were 0/6 from three, and Millsap didn’t connect on any field goals. Al Horford was the leading scorer, and he had six. Heading into the half, the Cavaliers trailed 58-56.
The third quarter saw a ton of Kevin Love, who got loose for 15 points on 5/9 shooting. He was the hottest Cav, no doubt, and his teammates combined to shooting just 4/14 (28.5%) for ten points; James had an awful quarter shooting and finished just 2/7 but did have four assists. The Hawks had a great chance to do some damage in the quarter but also had a poor offensive showing. They shot worse than Cleveland at 35% and had a 19-point effort. Thabo Sefolosha was the leading scorer with seven, and six other Hawks combined for the remaining 12 points.
Holding an 81-77 lead going into the final period, Cleveland got very lucky to escape this game with their ineffective fourth quarter offense. James, Love, and Irving combined for just 4/16 from the field and eight points; LeBron had six of them. Atlanta had nearly the same issue, but Dennis Schroder played the fourth like he was possessed. After his 27-point explosion in Game 1, he found that same aggression in Sunday’s contest and accounted for 13 of Atlanta’s 22 fourth quarter points.
With a little more than a minute left, a defensive goaltending call on Paul Millsap put the Cavaliers up 98-97, and James followed that possession with a fadeaway jump shot from the corner to extend the Cavs’ lead to three. On a subsequent play, Schroder got free for a layup and cut the lead back down to one. The final play of the game saw James and Schroder get tied up for a jump ball which was won by LeBron and sealed the Cavaliers advancement to the Eastern Conference Finals.
Cleveland’s leading scorer was Love, who finished with 27 points on 8/15 from three and 13 boards. James almost had another triple-double with his 21 points, ten rebounds, and nine assists; Irving had 21 points and eight assists. Schroder finished the game with 21 points and was Atlanta’s leading scorer. Millsap was second with 19 points and nine boards, and Sefolosha had 16.