CLEVELAND, OHIO – The Cleveland Cavaliers not only defeated the Atlanta Hawks 123-98 Wednesday night at Quicken Loans Arena but they also broke the NBA single game 3-point record along the way with 25 threes.
With the win, the Cavs take a strong series lead up 2-0 as they head to Atlanta on Friday to face the Hawks at Phillips Arena. Although it’s still early in the series, after the Hawks’ previous two performances, it seems as if it could be over sooner rather than later.
The Hawks have been dealt a difficult matchup that has led to a disappointing start of this second round series. Now 0-10 against the Cavaliers in the playoffs, the Hawks are struggling to gain any traction against LeBron James. Hawks Head Coach Mike Budenholzer simply has not had an answer for James during the playoffs. We expected adjustments to be made, they were made, and they weren’t good enough.
Korver said earlier in the week that the Hawks would work to make James settle for jumpers rather than drive into the paint. In response, James went 4-6 from three.
“We came in with a game plan that we thought was really good and we got discouraged real quick,” Hawks Center Al Horford said after the game. “We need to see what we can come up with as a group.”
The well-regarded Hawks defense did not live up to expectations tonight, allowing the Cavs to take a 74-38 lead at the half while shooting 66 percent from three and 50 percent from inside the arc. Atlanta’s scoring trouble continued in the first half as they shot only 34 percent inside and 18 percent from three.
Luckily for the Hawks, Cleveland’s scoring pace declined after James and the other Cavs starters were pulled early from the game. With the large deficit, Atlanta’s bench closed the gap slightly but seemingly never intended to come within striking distance. It’s been difficult for this Hawks team to cope with the fact that they are simply unable to compete with this Cavaliers team in the playoffs.
“You know, 10 [loses] in a row, there’s not much you can do,” Hawks Forward Kent Bazemore said. “You have to just keep playing, keep competing, play for pride.”
Unfortunately for the Hawks, not only was this a playoff game but as a three-point record came into view, the crowd became more and more antsy to see Cleveland shoot from downtown.
The Cavaliers completely dominated the game (up 40 points at one point) courtesy of the record breaking barrage from downtown that drained 25 three pointers (10 different players shot from deep to contribute to the record). Cavs Forward J.R. Smith ignited Cleveland’s three point circus early in the game ending seven of 13 from downtown. The previous all-time three-point single game record was 23.
“You don’t necessarily think you can have that type of performance but you just have to live in the moment,” Cavaliers Point Guard Kyrie Irving said post-game. “I really, truly appreciate what happened tonight. Everyone was making shots.”
James said following the game that the Cavaliers did not know that they were eclipsing in on the three-point record until it was announced on the arena PA that they had tied it. Having garnered a firm enough lead, James said the Cavs simply went for it. Following the game, he deflected comparisons to the Golden State Warriors, the poster child team for three-point shooting. “I don’t think we are [a three-point shooting team],” he said.
The Hawks will host the Cavs Friday night at Phillips Arena for game 3.
“They’re going to feel very comfortable going into their home building so we have to get better tomorrow,” James said. “We have to get better in shoot around on Friday and we have to prepare ourselves to go into a hostile environment and play that game as well.”