Tonight the Cleveland Cavaliers dropped an unholy beatdown on the hapless Hawks and put them into the toilet to the tune of 25 threes, 123 points, and 55 percent shooting from three. Every non-garbage time player who took a three hit one, and they smashed the NBA records for most threes in a half (18) and most threes in a game (25).
It’s reductive to boil an entire game of ebbs, flows, and adjustments down to one action, but in this case, it’s illustrative; LeBron James drives, a series of Hawks come fight him, and he finds someone (anyone!) who hits a big three in the face of whatever Bird Boy comes too late to close them out. Sometimes Kyrie drove, and LeBron shot. Sometimes J.R. just pulled up an acre away from the hoop. Doesn’t matter. The Cavs hit everything they cast towards the basketball ring and it was over at halftime.
I’m just gonna roll out a bunch of highlights here, because all the Cavs did was dunk and shoot the Hawks off the face of the Earth. Here are all 18 threes from the first half. Gaze upon the destruction.
Iman Shumpert sent little Mike Muscala home with this jam.
Even when they fucked up, they didn’t really fuck up.
It’s fitting that the record-breaking 24th three came from Dahntay Jones of all people. This team spaces and kicks so well that even their second-best Jones can hit a three.
The Cavs’ three-point percentage (55 percent) was better than their net field goal percentage (47 percent) on the game, and an offense set up around Irving-Love-Smith as spacers, Tristan Thompson as rebounding expert, and LeBron James as the omnipotent utilitarian looks as scary as any non-death lineup in the playoffs. The Hawks missed a great shot to take Game 1 in Cleveland, and in doing so made LeBron mad and set up their own downfall.
When the Cavs are motivated and mean and moving the ball like they did today, none of these puny teams in the Eastern Conference are going to stop them. It’s highly entertaining to watch them try though, because whatever regular season chemistry problems they suffered from are gone, and they’ve realized their potential as a wide open, spaced-out, offensive juggernaut.