Cavaliers survive Hawks in overtime thriller behind LeBron James’ triple double
USA TODAY Sports’ Jeff Zillgitt breaks down the Cavaliers’ thrilling overtime victory against the Atlanta Hawks in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
What happened: LeBron James’ three-pointer with 36.4 seconds left in overtime put the Cavs ahead 112-111, and James altered Jeff Teague’s driving layup with 30.9 seconds left. Then, James’ driving shot with 12.8 seconds put the Cavs up 114-111.Shelvin Mack missed two-three-pointers in the final 4.9 seconds as Cleveland outscored Atlanta 10-7 in overtime, taking a 3-0 series lead.
Atlanta had a chance to win: With the score tied 104-104 and 17.1 seconds left in the fourth quarter, the Hawks had the ball. Jeff Teague dribbled at the top of the key with James defending. DeMarre Carroll set a screen that gave Teague a bit of room, but Teague missed a three-point attempt at the buzzer.
James’ triple-double: It was James 12th career playoff triple-double, and the first since the 2013 NBA Finals. He had been close several times in the 2015 playoffs, either coming an assist or rebound shy in three previous playoff games. James is second on the all-time playoff triple-double list, breaking a three-way tie with Larry Bird and Jason Kidd. Magic Johnson leads with 30 career playoff triple-doubles. It was also James’ 54th career playoff game with at least 30 points, five rebounds and five assists, and his sixth of these playoffs.
Dellavedova-Horford incident: With 34.3 seconds with in the second quarter, Al Horford and Matthew Dellavedova went for a loose ball. Dellavedova fell into Horford and Horford reacted, throwing an elbow at Dellavedova. Referees called a flagrant two on Horford, who has a sterling reputation, resulting in an automatic ejection. Dellavedova was called for a technical foul. It was an unfortunate circumstance for the shorthanded Hawks because Horford was their best player in the first half, scoring 14 points on 7-for-10 shooting.
Dellavedova, a central character: Dellavedova has been a vital player for Cleveland, especially with Kyrie Irving limited because of injuries. He was involved in an incident that resulted in Taj Gibson’s ejection in the Chicago series and was the player who fell on Kyle Korver’s ankle in Game 2, resulting in a severe high ankle sprain and the end of Korver’s season. Dellavedova, certainly a guy who irritates opponents, also scored a playoff-career high 19 points against the Bulls in series-clinching Game 6 and had 17 points Sunday in Game 3 against the Hawks.
What worked for the Cavaliers: Cleveland had another strong game from three-point range, making 14-for-36, and Cleveland guards J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert and Dellavedova all scored in double figures with 17, 15 and 17 points.
What worked for the Hawks: Paul Millsap had his best of the series: 22 points and nine rebounds after scoring 15 points total on 5-for-19 shooting in the previous two games. The Hawks also had their best three-point shooting game, making 11-for-30 (36.7%). Jeff Teague had 30 points, seven assists and six rebounds. The Hawks used more of Mike Scott and Shelvin Mack and less of Dennis Schroder and Mike Muscalain Game 3.
Cavs injury report: Kyrie Irving (tendinitis left knee, strained right foot) missed his second consecutive game, and with the Cavaliers up 3-0 in the series, the Cavs are in position to let him heal until it’s necessary he play – later in this series if Atlanta wins or game or two or the start of the NBA Finals.
Hawks injury report: Kyle Korver missed the game with a severe high right ankle sprain, and DeMarre Carroll, who sprained his left knee in Game 1, had 10 points.
Up next: Game 4 is Tuesday in Cleveland, and the Cavaliers can sweep the series. No team has come back from a 3-0 deficit in NBA playoff history.