ATLANTA (AP) — Kevin Love scored 27 points, LeBron James hit a huge shot with 39.2 seconds to go and the Cleveland Cavaliers finished off their second straight playoff sweep, beating the Atlanta Hawks 100-99 Sunday to advance to the Eastern Conference finals.
The Hawks had one last chance to extend the series after James missed a 3-pointer with the clock winding down. Atlanta got the rebound and put the ball in the hands of Dennis Schroder, who led the team with 21 points.
The speedy point guard drove into the lane but was surrounded by James and Tristan Thompson. Schroder slipped and James tied up the ball, forcing a huge mismatch of a jump ball with 2.8 seconds left. With a 7-inch height advantage, James flicked the ball toward the sideline.
Paul Millsap tried to get off a desperation shot, but it was after the buzzer and didn’t go in anyway.
The Cavaliers, who opened the playoffs with four straight wins over Detroit, made short work of the Hawks as well in a series that mirrored last year’s conference finals.
In that one, the Hawks were the top seed but lost four straight to Cleveland. This time, the Cavaliers were healthy, seeded No. 1 and simply too much for Atlanta down the stretch in three of their four wins. They improved to 12-0 against the Hawks in the postseason.
The Cavaliers will face the winner of the Miami-Toronto series in the conference final. Toronto leads 2-1.
Schroder put the Hawks ahead 97-96 on a drive with 1:31 remaining. But James, after having one shot blocked and missing two tip-ins, got another chance when a video review overturned a call that Cleveland had knocked the ball out of bounds. Off the inbounds pass, Matthew Dellavadova found James streaking into the lane and Millsap was called for goaltending as he went for the block.
Schroder’s next shot was blocked by Thompson, and the Cavaliers isolated James on the wing against Millsap. James stepped back and hit the jumper, pushing Cleveland ahead 100-97. Schroder scored on a drive with 34.4 seconds left and James missed a potential clinching 3. It didn’t matter.
The Cavaliers buckled down at the defensive end and wrapped up the series.
Love carried Cleveland in the early going, hitting one 3-pointer after another as the Hawks continually left him open in the corner. He went cold in the second half but still finished 8 of 15 from beyond the arc, accounting for all but two of his points. He was fouled on one long-range shot, knocking down a free throw for a four-point play, and his only basket that wasn’t a 3 was a jumper with his toe on the line.
James and Kyrie Irving finished with 21 points apiece. Millsap had 19 for the Hawks.
Jeff Teague played for the Hawks after committing a flagrant foul on James in the closing seconds of Game 3.
Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue said he wasn’t surprised that the league decided not to upgrade the foul, which could have resulted in a one-game suspension for Teague.
Lue called it just “a little shove out of frustration” that didn’t warrant additional action.
Teague wasn’t much of a factor, scoring just five points. With the game on the line, the Hawks went with Schroder and kept Teague on the bench.
Cavaliers: Channing Frye followed up his 27-point effort in Game 3 with eight points. … Three players finished with double-figure rebounds, led by Love with 13. James and Thompson had 10 apiece.
Hawks: Thabo Sefolosha started for the second straight game, leaving Kyle Korver to come off the bench. Sefolosha had 16 points, while Korver managed only two on 1-of-4 shooting, missing both 3-point attempts. … After being outrebounded 55-28 in Game 3, the Hawks actually held a 42-41 edge on the boards. Millsap had nine rebounds, and reserve Kris Humphries chipped in with seven.