Hahahahahaha: Cavs-Hawks, Behind the Box Score

J.R. Smith Cavs Hawks
David Liam Kyle/NBAE/GettyImages

Atlanta Hawks 98
Cleveland Cavaliers 123
Box Score
Cavs lead series, 2-0


Haha. Hahahahaha. Haha.


What can you do after a game like that but laugh? Not at the Atlanta Hawks, who had the poor fortune of showing up on this particular night, but at the brilliance of the Cavs and the sheer disparity on the scoreboard. Seldom does The Diff get a workout like that which it labored through Wednesday night at the Q. The game was tied — Cavs 16, Hawks 16 — midway through the first quarter. That would change in a hurry.

The Cavs finished the first quarter on a 19-4 run, and by halftime they led, 74-38. They made a preposterous 18-of-27 threes in the first half. That was three shy of the playoff record for triples in a full game, set by the Golden State Warriors earlier in these playoffs. The Cavs broke that record through Kyrie Irving with 5:05 to go in the third period. They finished with 25 threes, more than any NBA team has ever made in a game, regular season or playoffs. Dahntay Jones, signed on April 13, broke the record with 2:21 to go in the game. (Mo Williams added a cherry on top shortly thereafter.)

They made open shots and contested shots. They pulled up off the dribble and knocked down catch-and-shoots. They hit from the corner and the wing and the top of the arc. They even made a three off a guy’s head.

Hell, J.R. Smith alone did all of those things, minus the off-the-head job. This was the ideal J.R. game, and he led the shotmaking bonanza early. Much of his charm and value come from the fact that he not only has the gall to take unconscionable shots, but the ability to hit an unreasonable amount of them. He did plenty of both en route to 7-of-13 threes.

Atlanta’s Kyle Korver, who knows a thing or two about the subject, called J.R. one of the most underrated shooters of all time. Korver was proven right the hard way.

It wasn’t just J.R., though. LeBron James, he of the maligned jumper, connected four times from downtown. Kevin Love only went 3-of-12 from the field, but each make came from beyond the arc. Kyrie Irving turned in a super-efficient playoff performance, with his 19 points bolstered by a 4-of-5 effort from deep. The big three together totaled 57 points in just 77 minutes.

It wasn’t just the stars, though. The bench scored 38 points in extended minutes, including 7 threes. Everyone who played scored with the exceptions of Timofey Mozgov and James Jones. Y2K-era University of Arizona stars Channing Frye and Richard Jefferson scored 20 points on 8-of-10 shooting. Iman Shumpert threw down a wicked right-hand slam to punctuate the third quarter. The entire fourth quarter was garbage time.

It wasn’t just the shooting, though. Aside from some late lapses when the result was already decided, the Cavs played outstanding defense. They held Atlanta to 38 points in the first half and 42 percent shooting overall. They outrebounded the Hawks, led by Tristan Thompson and Kevin Love, who combined to grab 10 offensive boards. They turned the ball over just 8 times while forcing the visitors into 16.

The shooting statistics will rightly get the headlines — Atlanta had the league’s second-best defense this season, and the best since January 1 — but the Cavs’ performance in other aspects of the game may quietly be just as encouraging.

That includes the passing. The Cavs did some chucking late to get the record, but for much of the game their open shots resulted from sound inside-out ball. It’s legitimately a challenge to play normally when everything is falling. It’s tempting to audible from the gameplan and heave at every opportunity. To their credit, the Cavs fought that urge almost all the way, and it was pretty most of the time.

Boy howdy was it a treat to watch. We’ve covered most of the important numbers already, but here are a few more.

25 — We detailed the 25 threes above. Those who contributed to the record are as follows:

J.R. Smith — 7-of-13 threes
LeBron James — 4-of-6
Kyrie Irving — 4-of-5
Kevin Love — 3-of-4
Richard Jefferson — 2-of-2
Mo Williams — 1-of-4
Channing Frye — 1-of-3
Matthew Dellavedova — 1-of-3
Dahntay Jones — 1-of-2
Iman Shumpert — 1-of-1

Shame on James Jones, who went 0-for-2.

+26 — In this series, the Cavs are now plus-26 against the Hawks in the first quarter. They followed up a plus-11 in the opening period of Game 1 with a plus-15 effort in Game 2. Their shooting Wednesday was otherworldly, but between a regular-season sweep and a 2-0 playoff lead, there’s plenty of evidence suggesting that the Cavs may just pose a bad matchup for the Hawks. If they can keep building big leads, they have a shot at getting their main guys some decent rest. (Knock on wood.)

5 — After torching the Cavs with 27 points in Game 1, Dennis Schröder scored a whopping five points in Game 2. The Cavs were content to let the speedy point guard take all the shots he wanted, as they were in the first game of the series, preferring to focus on Kyle Korver, Paul Millsap, and Al Horford. This game turned into such a blowout that Schröder couldn’t have done anything about it, but his feeble outing should count as a small feather in Tyronn Lue’s coaching cap.

3-of-7 — Kyle Korver has been the Cavs’ main focal point, and they held him in check again: 7 points on 3-of-7 shooting. Again, this thing was a blowout, so it’s tough to draw too much meaning from it — Korver only played 20 minutes — but it’s encouraging to see the Cavs limiting him so much.

9 — LeBron James’ free throw shooting numbers were something of a talking point entering this game. That topic is unlikely to get much play now. LeBron went to the line nine times, making five. More importantly, at risk of belaboring the point, this thing was a Blow. Out.

-13 — Timofey Mozgov turned in a minus-13 rating in 13 minutes of play. Don’t take this seriously, as none of those minutes were meaningful. I’m just fascinated by Timo’s plight.

0 — Zero losses for the Cavs through their first six playoff games. They remain the only team undefeated in the postseason. This is fun.


  • chrisdottcomm
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  • Natedawg86


  • Dave

    Another headline for this: “Who shot? JR!”

  • RGB

    We have an excellent teaching moment here…
    The largest lead was 41…in the 3rd period.
    They won by 25.
    Mr. Lue, that means it’s isn’t safe to rest your starters, and play with your ridiculous rotation choices until you’re up by 17.
    Not 10, not 11, not 12…17.

  • tigersbrowns2

    … one of my favorite movies !!

  • Harv

    – The Hawks are done. Obviously in these playoffs, and even if they win a game. I mean as a roster. The roster Ferry assembled has to go through the Cavs every year and, given the respective ages of each team’s best players, that roster is effed. Their biggest problem is they don’t have a single player who can change the Cavs’ conversation. No one was beating the Cavs last night, but someone could stop the nonsense, break the rhythm, show some fight for next game. Last year Carroll would have at least tried. Now the Cavs are arrogantly letting their best player, Millsap do his thing, fill his stat sheet, flap around like it matters. But Millsap’s not an alpha and his hollow-eyed teammates know it. Oh, they’ll start Game 3 with a roaring crowd and fake fight. But they’re done – all of them. Good solid players playing solid team basketball is a Wayne Embry wet dream from decades ago. It died with the ascendance of Jordan. it’s still dead, and so are the Hawks.

    – The halftime score of 74-38 is just non-sensical. Not the point differential so much as that 74 points implies a breakneck pace plus red-hot shooting. 38 points means walk-it-up and cold shooting. One team always sets the pace that both teams play. Last night the Hawks were left stunned and kinda stopped playing. Shame on them. Like last year my poster boy is Korver. Last year it was his little girl dash out of the lane, hands on head, as LeBron roared down the lane. And watch him “defend” J.R’s behind the back crazy 3 above: hands locked at his side with his pro forma head lean in. This guy, one of the great shooters of his era, cannot take playoff heat.

    – Look at the elevation Shump gets on his made 3, and his aggressive dunk. His body is fine. The prob has been in his head, and maybe the vaca his psyche took after getting his $40m last summer. Are you ready to play again, Shump?

    – Our hot-tempered, red-headed little GM may be the smartest/luckiest guy ever. He cans Blatt mid-season and Lue seems to find his HC groove just as the playoffs start. Last year Griffin takes aim for Shump, but is finally forced to also take the notoriously poisonous J.R. This year Shump fades and J.R., the Nuke Laloosh of the NBA, killer of countless coaches and locker room chemistries, is transformed by maybe the only alchemy that can unlock his talent, maybe a year before age depletes it. In Cleve LeBron gives him the indulgent loving big brother treatment. In Cleve gunners who elsewhere might resent his shots – Love and Kyrie – follow LeBron’s lead and indulge him. And he starts playing great defense. The whole knucklehead J.R. career saga is so sad in a cliched way, such a waste. His impulsive Laloosh idiocy – like the magnetic force that direct his elbows to faces – still makes him dangerous to his team. But there’s no way Griffin imagined in early 2015 that playoff opponents would be obsessing about the guy this year or that he would be the designated defensive stopper in 2016. Better to be lucky than good.

  • RGB

    Shump was getting to the basket on a regular basis in the Finals last year…he just couldn’t lift him arm to finish.
    So, we know he can do it.

  • Harv

    was comparing him to earlier this season. Last season he was contributing fine, injuries and all.

  • RGB

    Yeah, I’ve been curious about his lack of contributions, too.
    I literally said to the TV after that dunk last night, “Where the hell has that been?” lol

  • JM85


  • CB Everett

    I agree on Shump. Dude has been a huge disappointment this year. He and TT. The good news is that TT appears to be getting into his beastly playoff mode. Delly appears to be showing signs as well.

    So here we go again…let’s go guys are gearing up for a run. Blatt who?!

  • CB Everett

    One pipe received by Atlanta. Check.

  • 6thCity

    Great write-up, Harv. I still think Shump has (had?) a case of the fatherhoods. He pulled that sucked into the realm of the living with his own bare hands, in his own bathtub, and his already prone-to-doting paternal instincts locked in with the passion he once only had for basketball. That and he didn’t sleep well for many months. I suspect most pro athletes-cum-parents in the NBA eschew the new-parent trails us mere mortals face to the benefit of their play (and potentially the detriment of their bonding), but suspect Dr. Shump somewhat succumbed to it.

    Blatt’s Project Mozgov has completely left the rails and I doubt he will be able to contribute at all going forward. It’s a shame, but the Motherland is vast, and can’t afford to invest in ever hinterland project.

    If teams try to game-plan more for JR, and it seems like one has to, then we are going to reap even more benefits from him as wing players either try and not collapse ever off of him, opening the lane even more, or freeing up other very capable 3 point shooters.

  • Greg Popelka

    And being susceptible to allowing more CLE off rebounds.

    Like everyone says though, Swish makes shots when covered anyway.

  • Harv

    yeah, what a great additional distraction J.R is to effectively defending the Cavs. That he’s as much of a concern as Kevin Love is just amazing. And of course the more offense each player can contribute the more energy his teammates can expend on defense (see Warriors, Golden State). I hope we all appreciate how good this roster is, even as we complain from game to game. It may never be better or better balanced.

  • Harv

    Delly’s offense has a touch of flu, but he’s probably just not exhausted enough yet. He should be fine next round when he’s stumbling around like sweaty-headed child trying to snap out of a nightmare.


    “Like last year my poster boy is Korver. Last year it was his little girl dash out of the lane, hands on head, as LeBron roared down the lane. This year watch him “defend” J.R’s behind the back crazy 3 above: hands locked at his side with his pro forma head lean in.”

    Love this. I noticed it, too, on Kevin Love’s end-of-first-half three pointer (I believe it was their 18th). They showed the replay as the ball kicked out to Love. Korver turns, realizes no one is covering KLove, and instead of a mad dash to at least try to get a hand in Kevin’s face, he slumps his shoulders and basically just… stops moving. Resignation. They has it.

  • Harv

    yeah, don’t want to crap too much on a legit great player but watching his demeanor reminds me of a guy who just wants to shoot, and why can’t anyone understand that?

  • humboldt

    Good thoughts on this thread, Harv. As Cleveland sports fans, it feels important not to take this greatness for granted, as it can be so fleeting. Right now, the delicate balance extends beyond the roster to the coach, who, through his own character traits, lack of baggage, and the alchemy of favorable circumstance, appears to have the team’s full trust. So many things coming into alignment right now….[deep breath]…one day at a time…

  • chrisdottcomm

    You are the first person I’ve read this year stating they thought Tristan has been a disappointment.

    Curios what makes you feel this way considering every version of a Cavs dominant lineup features him?

  • CB Everett

    I mean, the way he exploded in the playoffs last year, he seemed poised to take it to a new level (other than pedestrian 8 pts, 8 boards type of middling PF stats). He got his big contract and in the reg season proceeded to deliver his usual 8 pts, 8 boards. The bulk of the reg season, he didn’t move the needle much and in fact didn’t crack the starting lineup.

    It’s fine because I suppose it’s our fault for expecting more after the contract (arguably), but he didn’t do much in the reg season…until recently, the lineup with him in it seemed to gel at the tail end (when Moz wasn’t in his way and Frye was relegated). It could be said that the other guys/big 3 started to gel and he happened to be there in the “dominant lineup.”

    Take a look at the numbers and tell me if I’m wrong or if you feel differently. Maybe I’m missing something with him?

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Live by the sword die by the sword but that was pretty amazing last night.

    I’d love to see a complete reversal game 3 tomorrow however. I’d Love to see Kevin attack inside, I’d love to see both LBJ and KI drive making an assertive effort to go right at Milsap and Horford. Results should be either a basket, a foul or a TT rebound. This would also collapse the ATL defense making those perimeter 3s that much more open.

  • Pat Leonard
  • The_Matt_of_Akron

    Atlanta hasn’t been destroyed that thoroughly since 1864.

  • Pat Leonard

    He sure does… I want to say that he made all four contested shots in the first game of the series and missed 4 open shots. He’s truly a marvel.

  • Pat Leonard

    Too soon.

  • Harv

    I think the Cavs are thrilled that he’s giving exactly what he’s giving. His expanding salary was not going to expand his offensive game, not that there is even room for set offensive plays for him after LeBron, Kyrie, Love and J.R. have all eaten their fill. Becoming filthy rich does not appear to have distracted him one bit. He came out of his hold out into the season in great shape despite no training camp. Has played another season without missing a game (how’s Andy handled the same constant inside banging?). He’s catching every lob and rebound (if that’s no biggie then what’s Mozgov’s issue?) and playing with the ferocity of a guy still in his contract year. Those old enough to remember the diff between how Hot Rod Williams did the dirty work around the basket in his contract year and the one immediately after get how unusual this is. No one on this team is playing harder or more unselfishly.

    I beseech you, friend: let’s understand, even as woe-is-me Cleveland fans, what we’re seeing. Tristan is a special kid. And the Hawks and others would love to have him and his contract, right now.

  • Pat Leonard

    Just so long as he doesn’t stop drinking espressos this time.

  • CB Everett

    I agree with a lot of what you’re saying. My point is more TT in regular vs. playoffs. He goes from Bruce Banner/JJ Hickson to Hulk/Draymon Green.

    My original point was that I was a bit frustrated with him this year, but glad to see he’s turning green/Green when it counts.

  • Harv

    But last year weren’t we all noticing the difference between regular season and playoff Tristan? This is what he’s supposed to do. He’s turning it up at money time, as is every other guy on the team. I didn’t see Love scrumming on the floor, or Kyrie defending much at all until the Pistons series. And he also might be a little fresher with no back-to-backs.

    Check out what they’re saying in Atlanta about him. “Numbers will never capture Thompson’s full value, though, as much of his impact comes on the defensive end, where he routinely allows Cleveland to switch by swallowing up ball handlers and possessing the ability to recover with explosiveness. That allows the Cavaliers to be much better with Thompson on the court, including a +22.1 net rating in Game 1, a +12.8 mark in last season’s playoff match-up and even a +10.7 net rating in the regular season series this season.Tristan Thompson being a very tough match-up isn’t a new development for the Hawks, but the point remains, and if he continues to act as a thorn of this magnitude, it will be a long series.”

  • Harv

    shut it down, kids, we have a winner.

  • BenRM

    This is like the most vitriol filled pro-Cavs comment I think I’ve ever read.

  • Harv

    Consistent with my semi-delusional personalty disorder, I interpret that as a compliment and thank you, sir.