Game 3: Hawks at Cavs
EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS
CLEVELAND CAVALIERS (3-0) 114, ATLANTA HAWKS (0-3) 111, OT
Quicken Loans Arena
Radio: WTAM-AM 1100, WMMS-FM 100.7, La Mega-FM 97.7
1. Team doctors evaluated the Kyrie Irving situation and made the recommendation that he should sit out for the second consecutive game. Maybe it makes sense to sit him once again in Game 4. That way, he'd have until June 4 to rest. He has tendinitis in his left knee. They certainly could have used some of his offensive punch tonight.
2. LeBron James was exhausted after the game. He didn't come to the postseason press conference for almost an hour and a half after the end of the game. Coach David Blatt said James was cramping up during the game. Perhaps he was getting an IV after the game. He played almost 47 minutes - 1 minute less than a full game. He was fabulous in the game and would not let them lose.
3. This was the Hawks' best chance at a win in this series. I now predict a 4-0 sweep. Atlanta would have to win four games in a row to win the series. Obviously, that's not happening. The Cavs can close them out on Tuesday, assuming their guys can still walk. Blatt is riding them hard in this series. He's got to find some guys off the bench to spell his players. They want to close out this series in Game 4. You don't want to give the Hawks any life. If you have a chance to close it out, step on their necks.
4. Guard Matthew Dellavedova is getting a reputation as being a dirty player. The Hawks mentioned his "track record," meaning when he fell on teammate Kyle Korver and when he wrapped his feet around Chicago's Taj Gibson. I don't think he is. He just plays harder than 90 percent of the players in the league. He's a tough player, who sometimes plays like he's on a rugby field.
5. What's been impressive - well, besides the way James is playing - is the Cavs' defensive intensity. They are getting after teams. They are ranked first in the NBA in just about every defensive category. That's going to give them a chance against anyone, yes, even Golden State. But we're getting ahead of ourselves here. The Cavs have a 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven series. If they continue to play as well as they have in this series, it won't be going back to Atlanta. Tonight was the eighth time in the postseason they've held their opponent under 41 percent shooting.
6. When we were leaving Atlanta after Game 2, workers were tearing down the postgame interview area. There were some jokes that they won't have to worry about this any more this season. I would be mildly surprised if the series stretches past four games. The Hawks just don't have what it takes to slow down James. He continually controls the tempo in the games and gets the ball where it needs to go. DeMarre Carroll has been hanging tough guarding James in the series, but he can't stop him. As long as the Cavs keep getting contributions from their role players (J.R. Smith in Game 1, Iman Shumpert in Game 2 and Smith, Shump and Delly in Game 3), they won't be stopped in this series.
7. The Hawks won 60 games this year, but many have surmised that they peaked too soon this season. This team won 19 games in a row at one point. They earned the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. Yet, they are no match for the Cavs, and likely won't be for the rest of the series.
8. The Cavs' 14 3s tied their franchise record. Both Shump and Delly made four 3s tonight.
9. They had 19 offensive rebounds tonight, the most since May 8, 2007, vs. New Jersey. The Cavs are 11-0 in the postseason when they outrebound their opponent.
10. James' 12 postseason triple-doubles are second most all-time behind only Magic Johnson's 30. He also moved into sixth place on the all-time postseason scoring list past Karl Malone (4,761).
UP NEXT: Game 4, vs. Atlanta, Eastern Conference finals, The Q, Tuesday, May 26, 8:30 p.m.
SF LeBron James (6-8, 250) vs. DeMarre Carroll (6-8, 212)
C Timofey Mozgov (7-1, 250) vs. Al Horford (6-10, 245)
SG Iman Shumpert (6-5, 220) vs. Kent Bazemore (6-5, 201)
Hawks - G/F Thabo Sefolosha, G/F Kyle Korver