Wrap-Up – Down two-thirds of their Big Three, the Wine and Gold barely missed a beat on Friday night in Atlanta – steamrolling the Hawks on their home floor for the second straight game – taking the decisive 2-0 edge with a 94-82 that wasn’t as close as the final score might indicate.
As the series shifts back to Cleveland, the Hawks now face the daunting task of taking four of the next five – including three at The Q – against a red-hot Cavaliers club that’s on a serious mission.
The story leading up to Game 2 in Atlanta was the health of starting guard Kyrie Irving – who’s been battling nagging injuries since the middle of the Cavs’ Second Round series with Chicago. After re-aggravating his knee on Wednesday and not shooting around on Friday morning, Irving was scratched from the lineup as he continues to battle left knee tendinitis.
Without their three-time All-Star guard, Matthew Dellavedova got the start and the Wine and Gold machine – that’s now 10-2 in the postseason and has won five straight – just kept rolling, opening up a 20-point edge late in the third quarter and holding on for the decisive victory.
LeBron James led everyone again on Friday night – finishing with 30 points on 10-for-22 shooting, adding a game-high 11 assists to go with nine boards and a blocked shot. Eight of LeBron’s 11 helpers resulted in three-point makes.
Once again, the Cavaliers stymied the top three-point shooting team in the East – holding them to just 6-of-26 from beyond the arc. And once again, the Wine and Gold did major damage from long-distance, drilling a dozen treys – with Iman Shumpert and James Jones combining to go 7-for-11 from downtown.
Shumpert just continues his postseason roll, tallying 16 points, going 4-of-6 from deep and 6-of-11 overall, adding four boards and a steal while limiting Kyle Korver to 12 points – all in the first half – on 4-for-11 shooting, including 2-of-6 from three-point range. Korver left the game late in the third quarter with a sprained right ankle.
Dellavedova followed up with 11 points, six boards and four assists. He didn’t shoot the ball particularly well, but his two triples early in the third quarter signaled the start of a dominant period in which the Wine and Gold outscored Atlanta, 30-17, blowing open a game that was close throughout the first half.
Tristan Thompson was a beast on the boards again on Friday night, leading everyone with 16 rebounds (two less than Atlanta’s starters combined) – including five off the offensive glass (just two shy of Atlanta’s entire team). Thompson only notched two field goals on Friday, but he also led Cleveland with two blocked shots. His best block of the night – swatting a Kent Bazemore offering at the rim – was incorrectly ruled a foul, though the replay showed otherwise.
In just 25 minutes of action, Timofey Mozgov rounded out the Cavaliers in double-figures with 10 points on an efficient 4-of-6 shooting, adding seven boards in the win.
Following his blistering 28-point outburst in Game 1, J.R. Smith cooled down a bit, but still notched nine points and a pair of steals off Cleveland’s bench. James Jones, on the other hand, was red-hot in the second quarter, canning three three-pointers, including a bomb in the closing seconds of the half to give the Cavs a seven-point edge.
The Cavs shot 43 percent on the night, but that includes an anemic fourth quarter in which they went 4-for-20 and managed just 10 points. Fortunately, their defense didn’t let up during the final period, holding the Hawks to 38 percent – and just 1-for-8 from beyond the arc.
Dennis Schroder came off the bench to lead the Hawks with 13 points, with three starters notching a dozen points apiece. Cleveland beat Atlanta up on the glass again, 47-39, and took twice as many free throws (26) and the Hawks (13) in Friday’s victory and limited them to a postseason-low 15 assists. In the first two games of the East Finals, the Cavs have outrebounded Atlanta, 96-76.
LBJ records near triple-double.
View some of the best snapshots.
LBJ goes strong to the tin.
Go inside the locker room.
Watch slow-mo game highlights from Game 2.
Turning Point – When Al Horford hit a short fadeaway jumper with 9:15 remaining in the third quarter, the Hawks drew within five points of the Cavaliers, 59-54. But that’s as good as it would get for Atlanta the rest of the way.
Shumpert and Dellavedova drilled back-to-back treys to improve Cleveland’s lead to double-digits. Shump canned another three-pointer moments later, and when LeBron completed an and-1 on a twisting layup, the Cavaliers had put together a 19-4 run that essentially gave them all the room they’d need to put the Hawks in a major hole.
By the Numbers – 53 … postseason games in which LeBron James has tallied at least 30 points, five rebounds and five assists – the second time he’s done so in the series and an all-time NBA record. Michael Jordan had previously held the record with 51.
Quotable – LeBron James, on the importance of sharing the spotlight with his teammates at the postgame podium following another win …
”It means a lot. It means that, first of all, what they do, they do it very well. I got teammates that don’t try to outdo what they can do. They do what they at a high level and, for me, I just try to lead them. Lead them the best way I can, and they go out and work for me and I try to do the same for them.”
Up Next – After Friday night’s huge victory in the ATL, the Eastern Conference Finals shifts back to Cleveland – where the Wine and Gold have dropped just one game this postseason and just two of their last 26 games. Game 2 will take place on Sunday evening, with Game 3 slated for Tuesday night. The series returns to Atlanta for a Game 5 if necessary next Thursday and back to Cleveland the following Saturday if there’s a Game 6. If the series goes the distance, Game 7 takes place back in Atlanta on June 1.