***** NBA Previews from The Sports Network *****
Friday, May 22
(All times Eastern)
(2) CLEVELAND CAVALIERS (1-0) AT (1) ATLANTA HAWKS (0-1), 8:30 P.M.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Cleveland Cavaliers will try to take a stranglehold
over the Atlanta Hawks Friday night when Game 2 of the Eastern Conference
Finals takes place at Philips Arena.
The Cavs earned a 1-0 series lead Wednesday thanks to a 97-89 victory in
J.R. Smith buried eight 3s and scored 28 points and LeBron James had 31
points, eight rebounds and six assists to lead the Cavaliers to a road
James led the way for No. 2-seeded Cleveland despite early foul trouble, but
it was Smith's long-range shooting that fueled several key surges.
His 3s came in bunches, including three in the first two minutes of the fourth
quarter to help the Cavs build an 18-point lead. He broke James' old franchise
record for 3s in a postseason game by one.
"Those who know J.R. know when he gets hot, he gets smoking hot," said Cavs
coach David Blatt. "He was terrific. Probably overlooked is how well he
defended and that he got eight rebounds."
Tristan Thompson added 14 points and 10 rebounds in the win and Kyrie Irving,
who is battling tendinitis in his left knee, had 10 points and six assists in
Jeff Teague scored 27 points to lead Atlanta, but the Hawks lost starting
forward DeMarre Carroll to a left knee injury in the fourth quarter.
Carroll had to be helped off the floor after tweaking his left leg on a drive
in the final minutes. There's no structural damage according to an MRI and
Carroll is questionable Friday.
"We'll see how things go in the next 24 hours, and we'll make a decision
what's in DeMarre's short term and long term best interests," Hawks head coach
Mike Budenholzer said Thursday. "Listen to the doctors and listen to DeMarre,
and make decisions."
Carroll is Atlanta's primary defender of James.
Al Horford had 16 points, Paul Millsap scored 13 and Kent Bazemore chipped in
with 10 off the bench for the top-seeded Hawks.
James picked up two fouls in the first nine minutes but finished 12-of-26 in
38 minutes to raise his scoring average to 27.4 points in seven career Game 1s
in the conference finals.
He has played in five East finals in a row -- the past four with Miami -- and
six of the last seven, including Cleveland's last two appearances in 2007 and
The Cavs, coming off wins over Boston and Chicago, ended Atlanta's three-game
The Hawks had won the last three to eliminate Washington in the semifinals,
the first time the team won two playoff series since capturing the only NBA
title in franchise history as the St. Louis Hawks in 1958.
Wednesday's game marked the first time the Hawks played in the round before
the NBA Finals since 1970, when it only took one series win to get there.
The Hawks cooled off after a hot start to shoot 44 percent, including just 4-
of-23 on 3-pointers. Bazemore led a late 10-0 run that trimmed Cleveland's
lead from 14 to four with under a minute to play, but James followed with a
dunk and scored four straight points to help the Cavs hold on.
James limped a bit in the third quarter -- he rolled his left ankle in Game 4
against the Bulls -- but Smith helped carry the Cavs, hitting back-to-back 3s
to give them an eight-point lead.
His 3s at the start of the fourth quarter helped extend their lead from seven
to a game-high 18 points with under 10 minutes remaining.
"He made shots with hands in his face," said Teague. "You have to tip your hat
Irving missed shoot around Friday and is questionable for Game 2.
Game 3 will be Sunday in Cleveland.
05/22 10:15:31 ET