Cavs-Hawks: Cleveland Sweeps Atlanta, Advances to Eastern Conference Finals

Johnny RussoContributor IMay 12, 2009

The first three weeks of the postseason couldn’t have gone any better for the Cleveland Cavaliers

They have done what no team in the history of the NBA has done by winning eight straight playoff games in double figures.

Cleveland is the only team in the playoffs to sweep the first two rounds and hold an undefeated record (8-0), which only five other teams have ever done.

With an 84-74 victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Monday night, the Cavaliers become the first team to advance to the conference finals this season. 

“We’re glad to finish this series off,” said Wally Szczerbiak.

“Now it’s time to get our rest and get ready for the next series. Coach did a good job getting us prepared for every game.” 

Anchored by their defense, the Cavs were able to walk all over the Hawks for most of the series. They held the Hawks to just 78 points per game on 38.5 percent shooting from the floor. 

They played a great game on the defensive end of the floor tonight, but the same cannot be said for their offensive play. They turned the ball over 18 times and shot 53 percent (14-26) from the free throw line.

Fortunately, they were able to get defensive stops and come up with big plays down the stretch to walk away with the victory.

“Those aren’t impressive numbers by no means,” said Mike Brown.

“We ought to feel good about this win, because we got it in an ugly manner. I know offensively we didn’t play our best, but the way we defended tonight allowed us to make some mistakes.”

LeBron James shot just 9-of-22 from the floor tonight, but still finished with 27 points, eight rebounds, and eight assists.

Delonte West once again came up big for Cleveland on both ends of the floor. He contributed with 21 points, six assists, and four rebounds.

He also held Joe Johnson to 18 points on 7-of-18 shooting. The most memorable moment of the night was when he drove baseline and threw down a left-handed dunk over Marvin Williams early in the fourth quarter. 

West has really given the Cavaliers a boost this postseason, and his team has continuously praised him for it.

“Delonte West has tough covers every time he steps on the floor,” said Brown.

“He was extremely good for us tonight.”

To help cope with their offensive struggles tonight the Cavs really controlled the glass, just as they have done through the whole series. They grabbed 48 rebounds (15 offensive) to Atlanta’s 33.  

Zydrunas Ilgauskas grabbed 10 rebounds to go along with his 14 points, and Anderson Varejao pulled down 11 (seven offensive).

Cleveland will once again have to play the waiting game.

They will play the winner of the Boston/Orlando series, which is currently tied 2-2. That series won't be decided any earlier than Thursday, so the team will have plenty of time to freshen up before their next series.