Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) embraces
Cleveland Cavaliers guard J.R. Smith (5) after the
second half in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference
finals of the NBA basketball playoffs against
Atlanta Hawks, Wednesday, May 20, 2015, in Atlanta.
The Cleveland Cavaliers won 97-89.
— J.R. Smith knocked down a tough 3-pointer, then
another. Turning toward the fans, their heckling
transformed to groans, he blew off his right index finger
and motioned toward his side, like he was holstering his
Smith was that hot.
LeBron James led Cleveland with 31 points, it was Smith
who ignited the Cavaliers in Game 1 of the Eastern
Conference finals. He made eight 3-pointers and scored 28
points in a 97-89 victory over the top-seeded Atlanta
Hawks on Wednesday night.
he gets hot," Cleveland coach David Blatt marveled,
"he gets smoking hot."
bringing Cleveland its first NBA title, James sealed the
victory with a soaring dunk in the final minute.
Hawks, it was the second straight series in which they've
lost the opening game at home. Cleveland will look to take
command of the series in Game 2 Friday night.
Hawks guard Jeff Teague (0) wipes his face during a
time out during the second half in Game 1 of the
Eastern Conference finals of the NBA basketball
playoffs against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Wednesday,
May 20, 2015, in Atlanta. The Cleveland Cavaliers
matters worse for Atlanta, DeMarre Carroll went down with
a knee injury driving to the basket with 4:59 remaining.
He was helped to the locker room, not putting any weight
on his left leg, and will undergo an MRI on Thursday to
determine the seriousness.
being the main defender on James, Carroll had been the
Hawks' leading scorer in the playoffs. He was averaging
more than 17 points coming into Atlanta's first conference
is a complete player," Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer
said. "He has a big impact at both ends of the
Teague led Atlanta with 27 points. But Atlanta didn't
produce its usual balanced scoring, as two starters —
Kyle Korver and Carroll — failed to reach double
Smith doing most of the damage, Cleveland outscored the
Hawks 22-4 over the final 5 minutes of the third quarter
and the first 2 minutes of the fourth. During that span,
he made five 3-pointers and another jumper from just
inside the arc, as well as throwing up a lob that Tristan
been a huge addition for the Cavaliers since he was
acquired in January as part of a three-team trade with New
York and Oklahoma City. A player once known for his
selfishness, he had learned to work with within the
confines of a team led by James.
Cavaliers really needed Smith in Game 1, he seemed to make
I start shooting," Smith said, "everybody keeps
telling me to keep shooting."
scored the first 11 points of the final period — all but
two on 3s by Smith — for its biggest lead, 85-67.
injury silenced the raucous crowd and would be a tough
blow for the Hawks to overcome. While he was being taken
off, James came over to say a few words and pat the
injured player on the head.
all a brotherhood," James said. "You don't want
anybody to get hurt like that."
without Carroll, Atlanta closed to 91-87 with about a
minute remaining. But James got loose from Paul Millsap
out near the arc, took off down the lane uncontested and
slammed home a dunk that finished off the Hawks.
made their deepest run in the playoffs since 1970, the
Hawks carried that momentum to a nine-point lead in the
opening quarter. Atlanta shot 61 percent and James went to
the bench with about 3 minutes remaining in the period
after picking up his second foul.
dominance on the boards kept Atlanta from pulling away.
Cleveland outrebounded the Hawks 15-6 over the first 12
minutes, actually yanking down more offensive rebounds
(seven) than Atlanta's total output.
returned in the second quarter and began to take control
of the Cleveland offense. He scored 14 points in the
period on 7-of-9 shooting, taking advantage when the Hawks
tried to bait him into a third foul by guarding him with
was tied 51-all at the half.
Cavaliers finished with a 49-37 rebounding edge, exposing
Atlanta's major weakness during the regular season.
Mozgov led with 11 rebounds, while Thompson chipped in
also had eight rebounds, giving the Cavaliers three
players who had more than anyone on the Hawks. Millsap,
Kyle Korver and Al Horford each had seven for Atlanta.
This was the first time in franchise history that
Cleveland won Game 1 of a playoff series on the road. The
Cavs had been 0-14. ... Thompson had 14 points, while
Mozgov and Iman Shumpert added 10 apiece.
Horford had 16 points, Millsap 13 and Kent Bazemore 10,
including a massive dunk in the second half. ... Bazemore
figures to get even more playing time if Carroll is
sidelined. ... Floyd Mayweather Jr. was sitting courtside.
When he was shown on the video board, most of the crowd