clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Final Score: Cavs take Game 1 in Atlanta 97-89 behind LeBron James, J.R. Smith

New, comments

The Cavs steal home court from the Hawks

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Hawks faithful was fired up for the most important game in their team's history, but it wasn't enough. The Cleveland Cavaliers overcame a slow start filled with extraneous turnovers to notch an important road victory in Game 1, 97-89.

LeBron James (31) and J.R. Smith (28) combined for 59 points, 16 rebounds, and 9 assists. 8 of Smith's 10 field goal makes came from behind the three point line, as he led a late third, early fourth quarter barrage that gave the Cavs just enough to put the game away.

The Hawks were led by 27 points from Jeff Teague, but despite hot shooting in the first half, they never really seemed to find an offensive rhythm. In the second half, the offense ground to a halt, highlighted (or low-lighted perhaps) by a 16 point third quarter.

Atlanta's Demarre Carroll, their primary defender on LeBron James, suffered what the Hawks are currently calling a knee sprain in the fourth quarter and did not return. We will update that as more information is available. He is scheduled for an MRI tomorrow.

Observations

- J.R. Smith will be getting the headlines after this game - as he should - but Tristan Thompson continues to be sublime. Thompson, who takes great pride in his ability to defend guards on switches is tasked with guarding Paul Millsap. His ability to hold Millsap to 3-11 shooting and dominate the glass as well is a problem for Atlanta. Millsap was visibly frustrated with Thompson for a good portion of the second half.

- In the Cavs two wins against the Hawks, they have found a similar working theme. Stick to Kyle Korver at all costs. Letting Jeff Teague and Dennis Shroeder slash away might be a bit uneasy on the eyes, but it is Korver that is usually breaking team's backs. Hounded most of the night by Iman Shumpert, Korver had 9 points on 5 shots, and 3 turnovers. The Hawks shot 4-23 from deep.

- LeBron probably needs to open it up some to end the game. The iso just isn't working. Then again, who am I to argue? It has been posited by many that LeBron uses those possessions as a form of rest sometimes. As long as they are winning, I'll let the guy who has been to 4 straight finals do his thing. That seems fair, right?

- I don't know what to do about Kyrie. You have to play him, as he has shown throughout the playoffs that his shot alone can win you some games, but it's getting tougher and tougher to watch. If the long layoff didn't help him, or if he did get a little further hurt tonight as David Blatt suggested, it's hard to imagine that he will get any better at any point in the playoffs. Still, you run him out there because he's earned it.

- The Cavs rebounding remains spectacular. They had a 49-37 edge, with 12 offensive boards. Timofey Mozgov (10 points, 11 rebounds in 24 minutes) and Thompson (14 points, 10 rebounds) continue to dominate opposing front courts in this regard. Second chances for a team as beat up and sometimes lazy on offense as the Cavs are incredibly important.