118-88 in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Tuesday night at Quicken Loans Arena, finishing off a comfortable sweep and clinching the franchise’s second Eastern Conference title and first since the 22-year-old James led them to the same achievement in 2007.Eight years later, LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers are back in the NBA Finals. The Cavs decimated the Atlanta Hawks
LeBron has now matched that finish in his first season since returning to Cleveland as a free agent last summer and will now look to capture the franchise’s first championship. As noted by Howard Beck of Bleacher Report via the Elias Sports Bureau, James is the first player to make five straight NBA Finals since Bill Russell, Satch Sanders, K.C. Jones, and Sam Jones did so as members of the Boston Celtics’ 1960s dynasty. Cleveland will face the winner of the Western Conference Finals between the Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets, which the former currently leads 3-1.
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The Cavs captured the conference title without much deterrence from the Hawks, the East’s No. 1 seed. After taking Game 3 in a ragged overtime victory on Sunday, Cleveland got out to a huge lead early in Game 4 and dominated the proceedings. Star point guard Kyrie Irving returned from a two-game absence due to left knee tendinitis to make four of his first five shot attempts on his way to 16 points (6-of-11 FG) and five assists in just 22 minutes.
But it was LeBron who unsurprisingly made the biggest impact with 23 points (10-of-20 FG), nine rebounds, and seven assists. Three more assists would have given the four-time MVP a triple-double average over the series, a feat accomplished only 10 times and not since Jason Kidd of the New Jersey Nets did so against the Toronto Raptors in the 2007 first round. LeBron very well could have reached the milestone if there were any reason for him to play in the fourth quarter, but the Cavs entered the quarter up 25 and built the advantage to as many as 31 points.
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