The Atlanta Hawks fell down as many as 18 points in the third quarter, and despite their best comeback efforts, weren't able to finish the deal against the Cavaliers, dropping Game 1 104-93.
Kent Bazemore got off to a hot start for the Hawks, scoring the team's first eight points, and in a hurry. Unsurprisingly, Bazemore's efforts were matched by Kyrie Irving, who proved to be unfazed by the long time off since their series against the Pistons, where he was equally as impressive on the offensive end.
The Hawks didn't play great early, their defense wasn't quite as sharp, and shots were not falling. Somehow, the Hawks stayed in the game despite the Cavaliers looking great on both sides of the ball. Irving finished the quarter with 10 points, and LeBron James had seven, and a pair of assists.
Dennis Schröder led the offensive charge in the Hawks in the second quarter, totaling 10 points. The Cavaliers three-point shooting wasn't quite as hot in the second quarter. After going 6-of-11 in the first quarter, they shot 3-of-10 from behind the arc. On defense, the Cavaliers appeared content with letting the Hawks try to beat them from deep, to which the Hawks couldn't respond, shooting 5-of-18.
Despite Kyle Korver and Al Horford not scoring in the half, the Hawks were down 51-41 going into the locker room. LeBron James had 15 points, five assists, and three rebounds, while Kyrie Irving had 12 points.
The third quarter had slow starts from both teams. J.R. Smith was called for a flagrant 1 on Paul Millsap, after elbowing him in the face as Millsap drove the baseline. Things remained the same for both teams, until the Cavaliers went off, and started pulling away from the Hawks, having a 72-54 lead with less than four minutes to go in the quarter.
The Hawks were able to cut the lead down to 72-62 thanks to an 8-0 run that was led by Mike Scott and Dennis Schröder. Another Schröder three got it to 72-65, before Channing Frye broke the Hawks streak with his own three. A pair of Horford free throws, and a huge Kent Bazemore three put the Hawks down 75-70 at the end of the third quarter. As dead as the Hawks looked in the third, they had more life than ever by the end of it.
Momentum stayed on the Hawks side early in the fourth quarter. They were able to trim the deficit to one, with the Cavaliers up 79-78 with under nine minutes remaining. A Dennis Schröder lob to Al Horford gave the Hawks an 80-79 lead, their first of the game. The Cavaliers would answer with a Kyrie Irving three, only to be answered by Schröder, who continued having a career game.
The two teams were deadlocked at 86-apiece with less than six minutes to go in the game. The pace seemed to pick up for both teams on both ends of the floor. As the Cavaliers started to show more life, the Hawks started making more mistakes with the ball on the offensive end. But great efforts on the defensive end by Paul Millsap kept the Hawks alive.
After Al Horford gave the Hawks the lead back, J.R. Smith knocked down a three-pointer to give it right back to the Cavaliers, and the crowd at Quicken Loans Arena rose to their feet. The following Cavaliers possession, Kevin Love was fouled shooting a three by Kent Bazemore, and knocked down two of three free throws, giving the Cavs a 92-88 lead with three and a half minutes to go. Love appeared to hurt his right shoulder from the foul, but remained in the game.
After an unsuccessful Hawks possession, the Cavaliers were able to get two consecutive offensive rebounds on the other end of the floor, as LeBron James knocked down a basket, and drew the foul from Paul Millsap. James made the free throw, giving the Cavs a 95-88 lead with just over two to play. The Hawks couldn't get a basket, and a pair of Kevin Love free throws gave the Cavaliers a 97-88 lead with 1:40 to play.
A pair of Paul Millsap free throws cut it to a 97-90 game, but LeBron James answered, and with 1:05 to play, the game was out of reach. Kevin Love appeared to injure his leg going up for a rebound, and was pulled from the game with a noticeable limp. Cleveland wrapped up the game from the free throw line, and the Hawks lost by a final score of 104-93.
LeBron James finished with 25 points, nine assists, and seven rebounds for the Cavaliers. Teammate Kyrie Irving finished with 21 points and eight assists, with Tristan Thompson bringing in 14 rebounds. Dennis Schröder finished with 27, while Kent Bazemore and Paul Millsap both had double-doubles for the Hawks.
Game 2 will be Wednesday night at 8 p.m. ET on TNT.