The Cleveland Cavaliers have completed a comprehensive sweep of the Atlanta Hawks to clinch the Eastern Conference Championship and move on to the NBA Finals.
The LeBron James return to Ohio is one step closer to completion, following the Cavs advancement to the finals for the first time since 2007, where Cleveland suffered a 4-0 sweep of the series at the hands of San Antonio. This will be James’ fifth consecutive trip to the NBA Finals series after contesting the past four with the Miami Heat.
Game 4 of the series ended in a lop-sided blowout of the Hawks, who never seriously challenged the Cavs for the duration of the game. Depleted by injury, the Hawks capitulated to end what had – at one point – been a promising season. The East’s number one seed falling 118-88 today, completing the 4-0 whitewash.
The Cavs brought star point guard Kyrie Irving back into the starting 5 for today’s close-out game, after sitting out the previous two games with a tweaked knee. Irving and ‘Straya’s own Matthew Dellavedova split PG duties, with Irving returning 16 points from 21 court minutes, whilst Delly cropped up with 10 from 16.
But it was LeBron who lead the way for the Cavs, dropping 23 points and sending the home crowd at the Quicken Loans Arena into a frenzy with this monstrous breakaway jam.
The Hawks battled grimly – forward Paul Milsap‘s double-double registering as one of the few highlights – but as was the tone of the series, they were simply outmatched by the steamrolling Cavs, who head into the finals in peak form.
Cleveland now awaits the conclusion of the Western Conference Finals, where the Golden State Warriors currently lead the Houston Rockets 3 games to 1. Game 5 of that series takes place tomorrow.
Should Golden State prevail in the series, it will mark the first time two Australians have contested the NBA Finals on opposing teams – Clevaland’s Dellavedova, and Golden State’s Andrew Bogut.
Photo: Gregory Shamus via Getty Images.