USA TODAY Sports
The Cleveland Cavaliers completed their sweep of the Atlanta Hawks Tuesday in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals with an easy 118-88 victory. This marks the Cavs’ first NBA finals berth since 2007. They await the winner of the Warriors-Rockets series in the West, which Golden State leads 3-1.
Facing elimination, Atlanta didn’t put up much of a fight as Cleveland jumped out to a 20-point lead early in the second half and never looked back. LeBron James led the way with yet another spectacular performance as he flirted with a triple-double, notching 23 points, nine rebounds, and seven assists, including this jaw-dropping breakaway dunk early in the first quarter.
Kyrie Irving, who was initially questionable for tonight’s game, suited up and chipped in 16 points on 6-of-11 shooting in just over 21 minutes of action. Doctors have told Irving it’s not possible to do any further damage to the ailing knee that’s limited his playing time in the conference finals, so the Cavs opted to let him play in order to try and keep his rhythm, despite the fact that it was all but a foregone conclusion Cleveland would clinch the series and advance to the Finals.
Aside from Paul Millsap and Jeff Teague, who contributed 16 and 17 points respectively, the Hawks didn’t get much help from the rest of their core unit in what has been a disappointing and demoralizing conclusion to their Cinderella season. DeMarre Carroll has been largely ineffective since suffering a leg injury back in Game 1, and sharpshooter Kyle Korver was lost for the remainder of the postseason after injuring his ankle in Game 2 on a play that has some questioning Matthew Dellavedova‘s perceived recklessness when going after loose balls.
It was precisely his penchant for falling/diving for 50/50 balls that led to an incident which resulted in Al Horford getting ejected from Game 3 for a retaliation elbow drop on Dellavedova. Horford was almost completely missing in action Tuesday in Game 4, scoring just two points on 1-of-6 shooting despite playing nearly 30 minutes.