Game 4: Hawks at Cavs
EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS
CLEVELAND CAVALIERS (4-0) 118, ATLANTA HAWKS (0-4) 88
Quicken Loans Arena
Radio: WTAM-AM 1100, WMMS-FM 100.7, La Mega-FM 97.7
1. The Cavs knew what they were doing by bringing back Kyrie Irving on this night. They knew it elicit a huge response from the already fired-up fans. And it did. Irving will now have until June 4 to rest that achy knee.
2. They pulled out all the stops tonight to get the crowd jacked up. They showed Browns tackle Joe Thomas. They brought former Heisman Trophy winner Eddie George out to say a few words. They flashed injured Kevin Love on the big screen. They knew what they were doing.
3. LeBron James became the first player in NBA history to average at least 30 points, 11.0 rebounds and 9.0 assists in a playoff series. If it looked like he was dominant in this series, obviously, he was. The Hawks had no answer for him defensively. They tried to defend him, just didn't have the personnel to do so. If it's Golden State that comes out of the West, the Warriors have several players that can guard James: Andre Iguodala, Draymond Green and Harrison Barnes. It's not going to be easy.
4. James was very emotional after the game. He refused to guarantee a victory in the NBA Finals. He did guarantee one thing: They will play their asses off. They've been playing so hard for such a long time now. The Cleveland fans love how hard they play. They're hard-working fans and a hard-working team. It's a good combination.
5. James' two steals moved him into seventh place on the NBA's all-time playoff list, surpassing Mo Cheeks (295) and Larry Bird (296).
6. It was the fifth time in franchise history, the Cavs have held a 3-0 lead in a best-of-seven series. On every occasion (2007 vs. Washington, 2009 vs. Detroit, 2009 vs. Atlanta, 2015 vs. Boston and 2015 vs. Atlanta), the Cavs completed the four-game sweep.
7. The Cavs' defense has been outstanding in the postseason. They've limited their opponents to 41.8 percent shooting in the postseason this season. They held the Hawks to 88 points, 42 percent shooting from the field and 16 percent shooting from behind the arc in Game 4. It was the fifth time they held an opponent under 90 points in the playoffs (5-0) and the third time they held a playoff foe under 20 percent shooting from behind the arc (3-0).
8. The Cavs continue to bomb away from the 3-point line. They tied a franchise playoff record of 14 3-pointers in Game 3. They've made 10 or more 3-pointers in five consecutive games. They are deadly from behind the arc.
9. It's been eight games since J.R. Smith has been coming off the bench - since he returned from his two-game suspension. In that span, he's averaged 15 points and 5.0 rebounds and is shooting 50 percent. He's also defending at a high level. He's playing outstanding basketball. He's certainly bought into what Coach David Blatt is preaching. He had his third career playoff double-double in Game 4, including two in a row.
10. The Cavs are riding a seven-game winning streak into the NBA Finals. They are 12-2 overall in the postseason this year.
UP NEXT: Game 1, at Golden State/Houston winner, NBA Finals, June 4, 9 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
Danny Crawford, Marc Davis, Derrick Stafford