The Cleveland Cavaliers took a two game lead over the Atlanta Hawks Wednesday evening with a commanding 123-98 win at home. The Cavaliers managed to obtain the important win in historic fashion, making an all-time NBA record, 25 3-pointers on the night.
Cleveland held the lead for the majority of the game, refusing to let up on a struggling Atlanta team that has now lost 10 straight post-season matches against the Cavaliers, spanning back to 2009.
Cleveland Doesn't Look Back As They Dominate Atlanta
The Cavaliers came into game two of this second round series with momentum following a strong showing in game one, having hit 15 3-pointers as well as dominating Atlanta near the basket. Although the Hawks looked to slow down Cleveland’s game, they were unsuccessful and the Cavaliers had the Hawks scrambling for a large portion of the game, pushing the pace and beating Atlanta on all parts of the floor.
Cleveland got out to a hot start, going eight for 12 from behind the arch in the first quarter alone. J.R. Smith, who had an outstanding game, led the scorching Cavaliers with 14 points in the first quarter. LeBron James, who surpassed Tim Duncan for fifth in all-time playoff points, added seven off 75 percent shooting from the field. Atlanta struggled to find a groove in the first quarter, having little scoring contribution outside of Paul Millsap’s nine. Cleveland ended the first with a strong 35-20 lead.
The Cavaliers continued to outshoot the Hawks in second quarter, hitting 18 3-pointers before halftime, extending their lead to as much as 38 points. Smith continued to lead Cleveland with 20 points, as James added 16. Kevin Love stepped up his scoring in the second quarter, ending the half with 11, contributing to Cleveland’s 74 first-half points, which is currently the most scored in a single half in this post season. Millsap upped his point total to 16 in the half, but continued to get little help from his team, as the remainder of the starters went six for 22 from the field.
Cleveland’s unbelievable shooting display continued into the second half, as they extended their lead beyond 40 points to start the third quarter. The Cavaliers refused to take their foot off the gas, maintaining a dominant lead that saw little push from Atlanta. The Hawks continued to struggle from the field, barely breaking 40 percent shooting, ultimately hindering their ability to mount any sort of comeback against Cleveland’s unprecedented 3-point barrage.
Cleveland’s starters earned some much needed rest going into the fourth quarter, although their bench still managed to push them towards their twenty fifth 3-point make on a night where the Cavaliers broke multiple records. James led the team with 27 points, followed by Smith’s 23 and Kyrie Irving’s 19. Atlanta was led by Millsap’s 16 points and Jeff Teague’s additional 14.
The Cavaliers, who had a strong showing from beyond the arch in game one, continued their hot shooting as they pushed their way towards their sixth straight win in these playoffs. According to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, the Cavaliers are currently averaging 15.6 3-pointers per game in the post season, which leads the all-time record of 11.7 held by the 2013 Houston Rockets.
Cleveland hit an NBA playoff record 18 threes in the first half, and set the all-time record with 25 total in the game. 10 different Cavaliers hit a 3-pointer on the night, as the team shot over 55 percent from long range. Seven of Smith’s total eight makes came from behind the arch, and James and Irving each added four more. The 3-point shot has been key in Cleveland’s success throughout this postseason, and it must continue if the Cavaliers hope to make their second straight run to the NBA Finals.
Game three of the series will be played in Atlanta on Friday, May 6.