Lebron James and Company will go to the NBA Finals.
It’s always easier to look at things in retrospect. Perhaps figuring out what happened and what will happen was and is more a factor of logic and not special insight. After the first two losses the Atlanta Hawks suffered to the Cleveland Cavaliers, questions were definitely raised. How can a team with a 60-game winning season collapse under a team that’s largely road weary and incomplete?
The Cavaliers were missing Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving, two key players that definitely made a difference during the regular season. The Hawks had a 19-game winning streak earlier this year that made many punters loyal betters according to US gambling laws. Lebron James may be the finest player of his generation, but Iman Shumpert, J.R Smith and Timofey Mozgov definitely gave James something to work with.
Game two proved to be prediction of the future
In game two, James got aggressive early, attacked and put up five shots quickly. Unfortunately for the Hawks, James never let up. Poor DeMarre Carroll, of the Hawks, had the unpleasant job of defending James while having a knee injury. Game two clearly showed that the Cavaliers weren’t going to allow a simple one-game split. Despite any of the injuries of his team, James put up 30 points, 9 rebounds and 11 assists.
The second quarter caused no alarm to anyone as the abuse of Atlanta continued. James simply doled out the passes which led to 3-pointers by Shumpert, Smith and Jones. Tristan Thompson dominated the boards with 16 rebounds while dismantling Atlanta’s Paul Millsap. Whatever strategy the Hawks had proved moot against Cleveland’s fervor. Kyle Korver was able to produce for Atlanta while Jeff Teague was held to the outside.
Mozgov proved to be influential on defense along with Shumpert. As the Hawks shortened rotations, the injuries had their affect in the second half. Korver had to leave the game with ankle trouble. Carrol and Horford were not up for the part they had to play. The 94-82 win by Cleveland was accomplished by collapsing Atlanta’s defense as well as their horrendous second half.
Game three may have sealed Atlanta’s fate
One should not look at Cleveland’s 114-111 victory over Atlanta as simply more of the same. There were definitely different factors affecting the outcome of the game. The foremost factor being that this match, going into overtime, clearly showed that the Hawks didn’t want to lose. The second factor lies in a Cavaliers player called Matthew Dellavedova, an Australian who replaced Kyrie Irving, the All-star. A move which may have surprised a few punters out there waging through online sportsbooks in the US
Dellavedova, in the 45 minutes he played, was able to score 17 much needed points for Cleveland. In the third quarter Dellavedova was involved in a collision with Atlanta’s Al Horford which left him ejected from the game on a flagrant 2 foul. Dellavedova tripped over DeMarre Carrol of the hawks and then fell back into Horford. The All-Star center got out of the rubble, then dropped his elbow and body on Dellavordova’s back and head.
James was still a bit cold in shooting. That changed as James started to put up points and ended with 37 points 18 rebounds and 13 assists as the game was tied at the end of the fourth quarter. Jeff Teague and Paul Millsap gave great performances for the Hawks, but Cleveland came a bit harder with J.R Smith scoring 17 points. At the end of the overtime, James collapsed to the floor in exhaustion.
Game four could really only go one way
• The 94-82 win in game 2 was accomplished by collapsing Atlanta’s defense
• A flagrant 2 foul was called on Al Horford which ejected him from the game
• James is the first player to enter five consecutive finals with 2 different teams
was stacked up against Atlanta for them to survive this series. Yes it must be considered that no team in NBA history has ever climbed out of 3-0 deficit. Yes three teams have come back to reach a seventh game. But do you really see Atlanta being in that company. The 118-88 slaughter is to be expected. Making US gambling news, James is the first player to enter five consecutive finals with 2 different teams.
Cleveland simply swept over Atlanta like a tsunami from the beginning. By the time the Cavaliers were up in the first quarter 24-14, the Atlanta became Atlantis with the Hawk’s players submerged bodies floating in the wake. Unfortunately, James’ contributions of 23 points, 9 rebounds and 9.3 assists were modest and all that was necessary. Irving, with tendinitis in his left knee scored 16 points.
Mozgov, Thompson and Smith had 14,16 and 18-point contributions to the Cavalier’s grandeur on the court. The first half had Atlanta down by 20 points. Cleveland shot at 51% in the first half and it marked the end of the game for most. Although Teague scored 17 points and Millsap 16 respectively, the Atlanta team couldn’t do anymore. The Atlanta team, who was once the second best 3-point shooting team in the NBA, was diminished to 23.4% for 3-pointers in the entire series.