Breaking down Cleveland’s 118-88 series-clinching victory over the Atlanta Hawks in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals:
What happened: 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.
A LeBron James series: 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.
Irving in the starting lineup: 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.
What worked for the Cavs: 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.
SOURCE: Jeff Zillgitt
USA TODAY Sports