LeBron James is two games away from making his fifth straight NBA Finals appearance. James led the Cleveland Cavs to an astounding 94-82 victory over the Atlanta Hawks.
From the outset, James controlled the pace of the game by setting up his teammates, who stepped up in the absence of Kyrie Irving. Iman Shumpert connected on four 3-pointers and Tristan Thompson added 16 rebounds to give the Cavs an offense and defense, respectively.
By the third quarter, James and the Cavs were on a roll, outscoring the Hawks 30-17 to put the game away early. Since the NBA playoffs began, the Hawks have yet to resemble the 60-win team that dominated the competition in the regular season.
James finished with 30 points, 11 assists, and nine rebounds. Here is what he had to say after the game. He spoke to Rollingout magazine team, caption:
Was it easy for you to get your teammates going early instead of looking for your own shot first?
I always try to be a triple threat on the floor. I want to be able to score, rebound, pass and give my teammates the utmost confidence. When I throw them the ball, I want them to shoot with confidence. It’s something I learned when I was a youngster. I understand how important it is to give your teammates confidence
The Hawks double-teamed you early. How did you adjust your game?
I’m able to make adjustments throughout the game by knowing how to read defenses and react. Obviously, when you have guys who shot the ball well tonight, the defense starts to go further and further away. I’m able to see creases. When they react to me, I find my guys. I know exactly where they’re going to be every single time I drive. That’s just the repetition that we have throughout practices and watching film and knowing where your guys are going to be and having outlets. They make themselves presentable and I just try to put the ball right where it needs to be. I’m able to watch the game and able to replay it back in my mind and understand what I can do to help us win.
The Hawks beat you guys three times in the regular season. How has this team grown since the regular season?
We’ve gotten smarter. We’ve amped up our communication. We’re flying around and we’re just helping one another at times of need. It starts with guys like Iman Shumpert. It starts with him and his approach to defense. I love the defensive side. He takes the challenge. Everyone takes it seriously and we understand that ultimately if we want to win long term that we have to defend. It gives us the best possible chance to win because the ball doesn’t go into the rim all the time. You have to be able to get stops and we’ve been able to do that thus far in our games in the post-season.
The Cavs made a huge run in the third quarter. Why has the third quarter been so pivotal in this series?
It’s a total 360 from our last series. We were terrible in the third quarter versus the Chicago Bulls. We understood that if we want to be really good, we have to come out with a little more sense of urgency.