A roller-coaster season for the Cleveland Cavaliers reached a new peak Tuesday night as the team dominated the Atlanta Hawks, 118-88, to complete a sweep of the Eastern Conference finals.
Making the NBA finals meets the expectations many had for the Cavs from the moment four-time league MVP LeBron James returned to the team before the season — though Cleveland struggled early in the season, finishing the first half just a game over .500.
James led the team with 23 points and seven assists Tuesday night, while point guard Kyrie Irving, returning from an injury, added 16 points and five assists. James averaged 30 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists for the four-game series. He returns to the finals for the fifth straight year, following four trips with the Miami Heat.
Cleveland swept the series despite playing without their other major off-season addition, power forward Kevin Love, who’s out for the year with a shoulder injury.
Atlanta entered the playoffs with by far the best record in the Eastern Conference, powered all year by a smart defense and a balanced, efficient offense that was loaded with shooters but lacking a true go-to player. The Hawks fell short of their first finals trip since 1961, when the team was still in St. Louis.