Former Hawks guard says they would’ve made 2015 Finals if it weren’t for LeBron and Cavs

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Shelvin Mack — who was a member of the 2014-15 iteration of the Atlanta Hawks — believes that the Hawks would have reached the 2015 NBA Finals if it weren’t for LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers getting in their way.

“I would say so,” Mack told HoopsHype when asked if the Hawks would have reached the NBA Finals if not for James’ Cavaliers. “It was a very tough matchup, especially at that time. I think we got swept like it wasn’t even close. LeBron James took it to another level, another gear, and he was young and had the city on his back. Kyrie Irving was starting to come into his own, and everyone was beginning to see it. They had a tough team, I will say that.”

Mack — who has been out of the NBA for years now — functioned as a role player for the Hawks. He averaged 5.4 points, 1.4 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 0.5 steals per game in 55 games played (zero starts) in the 2014-15 regular season.

The Hawks cruised through the regular season, as they ended up with a 60-22 record, which was the best in the Eastern Conference. While they didn’t have a definitive superstar, four players on the team — Al Horford, Paul Millsap, Jeff Teague and Kyle Korver — participated in the 2015 NBA All-Star Game.

But Atlanta’s regular-season dominance didn’t carry over into the 2015 playoffs. The Hawks won their first two playoff series, but the Brooklyn Nets and Washington Wizards put up fights, as each team won two games against Atlanta before getting eliminated.

Then, in the Eastern Conference Finals, the Hawks met their match in the Cavaliers. Cleveland swept the Hawks in the series and won the deciding Game 4 by a whopping 30 points.

James was absolutely dominant against the Hawks, as he averaged 30.3 points, 11.0 rebounds, 9.3 assists, 1.5 steals and 0.5 blocks per game while shooting 43.8 percent from the floor and 72.7 percent from the free-throw line.

Conversely, Teague was the only player on Atlanta to average over 20 points per game for the series. Horford and Millsap struggled to score the ball at high levels, as the two players averaged 11.0 and 13.8 points per game, respectively.

But after embarrassing the Hawks in the Eastern Conference Finals, James and the Cavaliers were eliminated by Stephen Curry’s Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals. The Warriors won the championship series in six games, which marked Curry’s first title of his NBA career.

For as great of a season as Mack and the Hawks enjoyed, the manner in which they lost to James and the Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals proved that they were no match for Cleveland.

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Jesse is a sports journalist with extensive experience covering the NBA. He has worked as a staff writer at SB Nation’s CelticsBlog and The Knicks Wall.