Cavaliers beat Hawks in series opener

Mon May 2, 2016 11:09pm EDT
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(The Sports Xchange) - A week off did not disrupt the Cleveland Cavaliers' momentum, nor was it enough time to alter the Atlanta Hawks' history against them. The Cavaliers still have never lost to the Hawks in the postseason, but this one was not easy.

LeBron James scored 25 points and came up with two big steals late in the Cavs' 104-93 victory on Monday against the Hawks to take a 1-0 series lead in the Eastern Conference semi-finals.

It was the eighth consecutive victory for the Cavs over the Hawks after sweeping them in last year's conference finals and winning all three meetings in the regular season this year.

But they had to fight back after blowing an 18-point lead in the third quarter.

"When you get it to 18, all you've got to do is lift the shovel up and pour dirt on 'em, especially if you want to be a high-level team," Cavs reserve Richard Jefferson said. "We didn't do that tonight and it almost cost us."

A dunk by James with 3:56 left in the third quarter put the Cavs ahead 72-54 before the Hawks roared back, scoring 11 straight points and closing the third by scoring 16 of the last 18 points to pull within 74-70 at the start of the fourth.

Al Horford's dunk with eight minutes left gave the Hawks their first lead of the night at 80-79, but Kyrie Irving countered on a corner 3-pointer -- his first basket since early in the second quarter.

There were four lead changes and three ties in the final eight frenetic minutes.

"I thought the way our guys competed for the whole night was what we need," Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said. "Going forward I think we can play better."   Continued...

Atlanta Hawks guard Dennis Schroder (17) drives past Cleveland Cavaliers guard Matthew Dellavedova (8) during the second half in game one of the second round of the NBA Playoffs at Quicken Loans Arena. The Cavs won 104-93. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports