LeBron James has made it to the NBA Finals for the fifth consecutive year as the Cleveland Cavaliers swept away the Atlanta Hawks in the Eastern Conference Finals on Tuesday night:
Per Elias: LeBron will be first player to make 5 straight Finals since…the '60s Celtics. Bill Russell, Satch Sanders, KC Jones, Sam Jones
— Howard Beck (@HowardBeck) May 27, 2015
James Jones has also been to five straight Finals thanks to riding LeBron’s coattails.
LeBron put up 23 points, nine rebounds and seven assists in a 118-88 victory (largest margin of victory in franchise playoff history), which has the Cavaliers in the Finals for just the second time in franchise history. The first time was in 2007 when James’s Cavaliers were swept by the San Antonio Spurs.
Kyrie Irving returned to action after missing the last two games of the series with knee tendinitis. Irving looked good right from the start, scoring on his first attempt and finishing with 16 points on 6-of-11 shooting in 22 minutes.
As for the Hawks, this is certainly a disappointing way to wrap up a season that saw them win a franchise-record 60 games and reach the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time ever. Atlanta’s offense just never found a rhythm in the series, and the poor shooting was a big problem in Game 4. The Hawks shot just 42.4 percent overall and 5-of-32 from three:
Last time a #1 seed was swept in a playoff series was when Nets swept the Pistons in '03 conf. finals. Happened in '01 & '02 also.
— Noah Coslov (@NoahCoslov) May 27, 2015
Injuries to Thabo Sefolosha, Kyle Korver and DeMarre Carroll certainly didn’t help matters (Al Horford and Paul Millsap were banged up as well), and Atlanta will now have to regroup this offseason. Korver will be recovering from ankle surgery, while Carroll and Millsap will be unrestricted free agents.
The Cavaliers will get a nice long rest before the Finals begin on June 4, likely against the Golden State Warriors.