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NBA Playoffs -- Cavs nip Hawks, take Game1 of East Finals


PhilBoxing.com




ATLANTA--LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers outmuscled and overpowered the Atlanta Hawks, 97-89, to score a morale-boosting victory in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals at the Philips Arena, Wednesday.

After winning only once in their four regular-season meetings, the Cavaliers took advantage of the top seeded Hawks' poor shooting and dominated both boards to steal home court advantage of the best-of-7 series.

Game 2 returns to the Philips Arena on Friday night (Saturday AM in Manila).

LeBron James led all scorers with an efficient 31 points, eight rebounds and six assists in 38 minutes of play. The four-time MVP slammed home a dunk in the final 37 seconds of play, sealing Atlanta's fate as the Cavs built their lead back to six, 93-87, after quelling the Hawks' repeated rallies.

The Hawks came to within four points off a Kent Bazemore fast break, 91-87, that capped a 6-0 run, time down to 47 seconds.

"I think it still is a team victory," said Cleveland coach David Blatt, who was commended by James, himself, for setting up the winning play that led to the monstrous dunk.

James went full throttle for a clear-out play knowing that J.R. Smith was hot on the wings.

"Coach (Blatt) drew that play (last 37 seconds) and we just run it to perfection," said James, who top-scored with 31 points, despite the injuries sustained by starter Kevin Love, among others. "I knew that JR (Smith) was just hot tonight," added the comebacking Cleveland star, who gave Miami several championships.

Smith was sharp and unforgiving, drilling eight three pointers in a huge 28-point haul that broke the game wide open for Cleveland. Tristan Thompson added 14 points and 10 boards while Kyle Irving pitched in 10 points and six dimes.

Cleveland took the lead for good after breaking away from a 63-all count with four minutes left in the third quarter. They led by as many as 15 points, 82-67, before Atlanta slowly nibbled at the lead.

Jeff Teague led the Hawks with 27 points but Atlanta shot a measly 17 percent on four out of 23 three point shots, miserably missing the contribution of Dennis Schroeder, who only turned in six points on two-of-10 field goal shots and was fruitless beyond the arc, 0-for-3.

Photo: LeBron James proved too much for the Hawks on Wednesday night, scoring 31 points and grabbing 8 rebounds with 6 assists to lead the Cleveland Cavaliers to a Game 1 win on the Eastern Conference Finals at Philips Arena.


Click here to view a list of other articles written by Winchell Campos.


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