Cavs’ three-point assault trumps Hawks

A record-setting haul of 25 three-pointers was enough to hand the Cleveland Cavaliers a dominating 123-98 win over the Atlanta Hawks in their Eastern Conference semi-finals.

Cleveland were successful with 18 three-pointers in the first half to take a 74-38 lead into the third quarter, an advantage they saw through to claim a 2-0 lead in the series, with game three scheduled for Friday and game four for Sunday.

Ten Cavaliers players were successful with shots from beyond the arc, with JR Smith the main protagonist with seven long-range baskets.

“When he’s making shots, it becomes contagious,” said Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue said of Smith.

With 2:24 remaining on the clock, Dahntay Jones’ three-pointer handed the Cavaliers record, surpassing the 23 threes the 2009 Orlando Magic and the 2013 Houston Rockets made.

Mo Williams then extended the new mark to 25 with another three moments thereafter.

“We were getting open shots and taking open shots and we were making them,” Lue added

In the process the Cavaliers also set a new mark for the most threes in a playoff game, smashing the previous record of 21 the Golden State Warriors set last month.

The Cavs’ half-time lead of 36 points was also the largest in an NBA playoff match since 1987.

The Cavaliers have now won their last nine matches against the Hawks and have won all 10 playoff matches contested between the two teams.

“Outside of the threes I thought our defense was great,” Lue added

“That was our best defensive effort in a long time. If we compete and we play great defensively we can get out and run and pretty much get anything we want.

“We will just continue to keep sharing the ball. Our guys have a lot of trust. They trust each other on the defensive end and they trust each other on the offensive end. If a guy is open he knows he is going to get the ball.

LeBron James scored 27 points while Smith scored 23 with seven-of-13 from three-point range. Meanwhile, Kyrie Irving had 19 points and Kevin Love contributed 11 points and 13 rebounds.

Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer conceded that the Cavs’ threat from range was a big concern for them, after they also landed 15 threes in the first game of the series.

Paul Millsap was the most effective player for the Hawks with 16 points and 11 rebounds.