CBS Sports' Matt Moore wrote several takeaways from the Cleveland Cavaliers' 114-111 OT win over the Atlanta Hawks on May 24. The Cavaliers lead the series 3-0.
There were several takeaways from the Cleveland Cavaliers' 114-111 OT win over the Atlanta Hawks on May 24.
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LeBron James overcame a 0-for-10 start to finish with a triple-double, per The Northeast Ohio Media Group's Chris Haynes. James had 37 points, 18 rebounds and 13 assists in a tremendous performance to lift the Cavs to a 3-0 series lead and one win away from their first NBA Finals stint in eight years.
Already without the injured Kevin Love, the Cavaliers missed the services of All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving for the second consecutive game as he's dealing with left-knee tendinities, per Joe Gabriele of the Cavaliers' official website.
As for the Hawks, they were without All-Star guard Kyle Korver, who injured his ankle in Game 2 during a loose-ball scramble with Cavaliers guard Matthew Dellavedova, per Gabriele.
James shot 0 for 9 during the first quarter, prompting Haynes to call it "the poorest opening quarter of his career." A good number of those misses were from close distance. When James missed a layup, he even raised his hands in frustration.
He didn't make his first field goal until the 7:04 mark of the second quarter, per The Northeast Ohio Media Group.
The first half was a see-saw affair. With the score pegged at 49-48 in favor of Cleveland and just 34 seconds left in the second quarter, things got a little bit chippy.
According to Gabriele, Dellavedova inadvertently hit Hawks All-Star center Al Horford's legs during a loose ball scuffle. Horford reacted by swinging his elbow near Dellavedova's head as the latter lay on the court.
Haynes suspects it "might have been a retaliatory act" for what Delladova did to Korver in Game 2.
Nonetheless, the referees whistled Horford for a Flagrant 2, which merits an automatic ejection. He left the game after scoring 14 points on 7-of-10 shooting. Delladova received a technical foul, per The Northeast Ohio Media Group.
Before Delladova's skirmishes with Korver and Horford, he had one with Chicago Bulls forward Taj Gibson in Game 5 of their second-round series. Gibson kicked Dellavedova after the two locked legs on a rebound play, per Haynes.
James shook off his shooting slump in the second half when he went off for 15 points, six rebounds and six assists in the third quarter. Two of those 15 points came off a powerful one-handed dunk over the Hawks' Kent Bazemore and Mike Muscala, per The Northeast Ohio Media Group.
The Hawks were seemingly on their way to their first win of the series when All-Star guard Jeff Teague scored two of his 30 points with 1:38 left in regulation. However, a James free throw, a Tristan Thompson bucket and an Iman Shumpert free throw tied the count at 104 apiece, per ESPN.
In the overtime period, James took over.
He made a three-pointer to respond to Teague's triple and give the Cavs a 112-111 lead. After Teague missed on the other end, James made a six-foot shot for the final count. Atlanta guard Shelvin Mack missed two three-pointers in the dying seconds which would have sent the game to a second overtime, per Gabriele.
Both Dellavedova and J.R. Smith had 17 points each for the Cavaliers while All-Star forward Paul Millsap chipped in with 22 points and nine rebounds for the Hawks, per ESPN.
James finished with a 14-of-37 shooting clip, per Gabriele.
CBS' Matt Moore says one of the takeaways from the game is the Hawks' inability to capitalize on the opportunities they had. Proof of this is the 19 offensive rebounds they surrendered which resulted in 17 second-chance points.
Moore also cites a rebound which Hawks forward Mike Scott could have easily grabbed but let go out of bounds and Mack's two missed threes as further evidence.
Moore adds the Hawks' "anyone but Lebron" strategy has backfired on them. He argues the Hawks are "getting constantly beat by James dishing to shooters who you would normally beg and plead to shoot." Those shooters like Dellavedova and Smith, who had a franchise playoff record eight three-pointers in Game 2, have responded for Cleveland in a big way.
The CBS Sports report's final takeaway is Horford should not have lost his composure during a critical juncture of the series. Replays confirmed he pulled Dellavedova down during their controversial rebond play in the first half of Game 3.
With this, Dellavedova should not have been blamed for the skirmish, per Moore. Instead, Horford should have maintained his poise knowing his team was down 0-2 in the series.
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