(Cleveland, OH) – Behind a record-setting barrage of three-pointers, the Cleveland Cavaliers easily took a 2-0 advantage in the Eastern Conference semifinals by coasting to a 123-98 win over the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday night at Quicken Loans Arena.
The Cavs hit for 25 three-pointers, breaking the old mark of 21 that was set earlier this postseason by the Golden State Warriors. In the first half, they hit on 18-of-27 from long-range, also establishing a new playoff record for a single half.
“The way we shot the ball, the way we moved the ball, we played amazing tonight,” J.R. Smith said immediately after the game.
LeBron James led all scorers with 27 points, adding five assists and contributing four of the team’s three-pointers. Right behind him was Smith, who ended his night with 23 points, including seven long-range baskets, and Kyrie Irving, with 19 points on six assists and four three-pointers.
“When J.R.’s making shots, it’s great to see,” Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue said. “He’s got a beautiful shot and when he’s making shots, it becomes contagious and it’s hard for us to get beat.”
“We played at a great pace, getting stops on defense and clicking on all cylinders,” Love commented.
Atlanta was unable to stop that first-half barrage, which was magnified because Cleveland was able to tighten the lid on the Hawks offense by holding them to just 34-percent shooting. That included connecting on just 18 percent from three-point range and scoring just three field goals during the second-quarter onslaught. In addition, they committed 12 turnovers in the first 24 minutes, resulting in a 74-38 lead for Cleveland at the break.
“Everyone was just aggressive tonight and everyone was on key,” Irving said. “It started on defense, limiting them to one shot.”
There was some irony with their torrid 67 percent three-point shooting during the first half in that the Cavs only connected on 6-of-21 (29 percent) of their two-point attempts during those first two periods. However, solid ball movement throughout the night was evident, resulting in them finishing with 27 assists.
“It was beautiful to watch. I thought we made the right play, we made the right pass,” Lue said. “The ball moved and guys got their shots.”
Atlanta never came close to mounting anything resembling a comeback, with the Cavaliers eventually leading by as many as 41 points in the third period. With all of the starters resting in the fourth quarter, the Hawks managed to whittle the final margin down to 21 before two final three-pointers by Cleveland put an exclamation point on the evening.
“Something we’ve been stressing all year is that the ball finds energy,” James said. “Tonight was a special night for our organization, the players and fans. For us to be able to set an all-time record is something special.”
The two teams now head to Atlanta for Game 3 that will tip off just after 7 p.m. ET.