The Cleveland Cavaliers had one mission when they took the court at Quicken Loans Arena on Tuesday night, end the Eastern Conference Finals tonight in front of their home fans. Mission accomplished. The Cavaliers only trailed once the entire night and rolled all over the Atlanta Hawks 118-88 and sweep the best of seven series four games to none.
This will be the second NBA Finals appearance for the Cavaliers. Their only other trip to the Finals took place in 2007 where they were swept by the San Antonio Spurs.
This will be the fifth straight trip to the NBA Finals for LeBron James and the sixth in his career. James looks to win his third NBA Championship and most importantly the first championship for the franchise. James was once again the leader of the pack for Cleveland. LeBron had a game high 23 points with nine rebounds, seven assists, two steals and a blocked shot. Those numbers would have been higher if LeBron played in the fourth quarter, but that wasn’t necessary with the Cavaliers leading by 25 points at the end of the third quarter. James averaged a triple double coming into game four and finishes the series as the most valuable player.
Kyrie Irving returned after missing the previous two games with left knee tendinitis. Irving looked pretty good moving on the knee and played a key part in the victory. Irving played 22 minutes and finished with 16 points on six of eleven shooting with a pair of three pointers. Irving added four rebounds, five assists, a steal and a blocked shot. It was interesting to see if Irving would play in game four but the playing time proved to be important so Irving doesn’t go into the finals rusty after not seeing any action in two weeks.
James might have been the most valuable player in the series, but you could make a case for Tristan Thompson as the player of the game in game four. Thompson once again was huge factor on both ends of the court. Thompson recorded another double double, 16 points and eleven rebounds. The Cavaliers as a team were dominant inside the entire series against Atlanta. The Cavaliers dominated the glass in game four, out rebounding the Hawks 56-39.
Iman Shumpert had a rough night shooting the basketball, going just one of eight for three points. Shumpert was a factor in other areas in game four. Shumpert tallied eight rebounds, four assists and a blocked shot. Rounding out the Cavaliers starting five, Timofey Mozgov finished with 14 points and seven rebounds.
With Irving back in the starting lineup, Matthew Dellavedova returned to the bench, but continued to make a name for himself in game four. Dellavedova in just 17 minutes of action finished with ten points and two rebounds. Dellavedova was also a key in getting the Hawks off of their game. Dellavedova was able to draw an offensive foul early in the game on Jeff Teague after the two made contact going down the court. The sold out crowd started chanting his name and that seemed to provide energy for the entire team and not just Dellavedova himself.
J.R.Smith also stepped up big off the bench in game four. Smith recorded another double double in this series. Smith finished with 18 points in 29 minutes. Smith went seven of 14 from the field, four of ten from three point country, with ten rebounds and three assists.
The Cavaliers were in such control of game four, the entire active roster saw playing time on Tuesday night. That’s not something you see in a playoff game, let alone a closeout game in the conference finals. It was quite clear from the second quarter on that the Hawks were waving the white flag and just playing out the end of their season. Teague lead the Hawks with 17 points. Al Horford, who was not suspended for game four after being ejected in game three, was a complete no show. Horford didn’t score in the first half and only made one basket in the third quarter for his two points.
The Cavaliers have now won seven straight playoff games heading into the NBA Finals. The Cavaliers will wait and see who they will face beginning on June 4th. The Golden State Warriors lead the Houston Rockets three games to one in the western conference finals. The Warriors can close out that series beginning on Wednesday in game five in Oakland. The winner of the Warriors and Rockets series will host game one of the NBA Finals. The Cavaliers first home game of the NBA Finals takes place on Tuesday, June 9th. By clinching the eastern conference championship on Tuesday night, the Cavaliers will have nine days of rest before game one of the NBA Finals tips off.