CLEVELAND — In a game that was decided early, the Cleveland Cavaliers left no doubt in demolishing the top-seeded Atlanta Hawks, 118-88 to advance to the NBA Finals.
With the win, they advance to the Finals for the second time in franchise history and the first time since 2007, where they would get swept by the San Antonio Spurs.
Two nights after out-lasting the Hawks in a 114-111 overtime thriller, Cleveland was determined to put Atlanta away early and quickly.
And did they ever succeed.
If Game 3 was the Hawks proverbial last stand and counter-punch, Cleveland came out in a flurry in landing the final knockout blow on the East’s best regular-season team.
In sweeping the top-seeded Hawks, the Cavaliers have won their 12 of their last 14 games, and with their last loss coming in Game 3 against the Bulls, Cleveland has won seven straight games, appear to be on a likely collision course with the high-powered Golden State Warriors.
For James, he will be making his fifth straight Finals appearance.
Led by LeBron James’ 23 points, 9 rebounds and 7 assists, the Cavaliers jumped out to a 12 point lead, 32-20 at the end of the first quarter, and a 17-point lead, 59-42 at halftime. IN what would be a cameo appearance, Kyrie Irving returned to the starting lineup to score 16 points on 6-of-11 shooting from the field in 22 minutes, after missing the last two games due to tendinitis in his knee.
Tristan Thompson continued his monster post-season rampage in recording a double-double in scoring 16 points and grabbing 11 rebounds, shooting guard J.R. Smith also recorded a double-double in scoring 18 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. Smith would also go 4-of-10 from three-point range.
Center Timofey Mozgov added 14 points and 7b rebounds while Matthew Dellavedova added 10 points in 17 minutes.
Atlanta, who won 60 games, had four All-Stars and the NBA Coach of the Year in Mike Budenholzer, looked mentally broken and disinterested during the Cavs onslaught, as point guard Jeff Teague led the Hawks in scoring with 17 points, Paul Millsap added 16 points and 10 rebounds, Kent Bazemore chipped in 12 points.
Al Horford, who was assessed a flagrant two foul on Dellevedova in elbowing him, scored two points in 29 minutes and DeMarre Carroll added seven points.
Sheldon Mack added 10 points in 24 minutes.