Too much love for Atlanta

Kevin Love was unstoppable in Game 4 against the Atlanta Hawks, with the Cleveland Cavaliers forward pouring in 27 points. With the Game 4 win, the Cavs advance to the Eastern Conference finals and will meet either the Toronto Raptors or the Miami He
Kevin Love was unstoppable in Game 4 against the Atlanta Hawks, with the Cleveland Cavaliers forward pouring in 27 points. With the Game 4 win, the Cavs advance to the Eastern Conference finals and will meet either the Toronto Raptors or the Miami Heat. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Cavs star pours in 8 3-pointers as Hawks are swept aside for 2nd straight play-offs

WASHINGTON • Atlanta Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer's latest strategy against the Cleveland Cavaliers was to make Kevin Love hit enough shots to beat the Hawks.

And the Cavs forward obliged in Game 4 on Sunday, scoring 27 points, including eight three-pointers in the Cavs' series-clinching 100-99 sweep at the Philips Arena.

They advanced to the National Basketball Association (NBA) Eastern Conference finals for the second straight season after the 4-0 series win, and will await the winners of the Toronto Raptors v Miami Heat series.

Kyrie Irving scored 21 points and had eight assists, and LeBron James added 21 points, 10 rebounds, nine assists and a big defensive stand on the Hawks' final possession as the Cavs hung on with 10sec to play.

With their Big Three players healthy, they are a perfect 8-0 in this play-off series. James said: "We're in a great rhythm. We know where everyone is on the floor and exactly where we should be."

Budenholzer and the Hawks, who were also swept by the Cavs in last year's Eastern final, tried everything but to no avail. "They created a lot of mismatches," he said.

The Eastern Conference top seeds were hot from the three-point line throughout the series, hitting 16 on Sunday. They made 62 three-pointers in the final three games of the series.

"We hit our stride at the right time," Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said. "The last three or four weeks of the season, we really started playing good basketball on both ends of the court, and it has carried over."

His team can look forward to some rest before they take to the court again, with Toronto leading Miami 2-1 in what has been an extremely tight, physical series.

In the Western Conference semi-finals, Kevin Durant tied a play-off career high with 41 points to lead the Oklahoma City Thunder to a 111-97 victory over the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday at the Chesapeake Energy Arena, a victory which tied the series at 2-2.

Down by four points after three quarters, the Thunder outscored the Spurs 34-16 in the fourth to pull away. Durant shot 14-for-25 from the field and was 10-for-13 from the free-throw line.

Russell Westbrook added 14 points, 15 assists and seven rebounds, Steven Adams racked up 16 points and 11 rebounds, and Dion Waiters came off the bench to score 17 points.

Tony Parker paced the Spurs with 22 points, Kawhi Leonard posted 21 points and six rebounds while LaMarcus Aldridge scored 20 points and grabbed six boards.

Durant said: "I know at any moment I can go off and hit a few shots. Shots were going in (tonight). My team-mates set great screens and I was just moving around. If I stay stationary, I'm easy to guard."

Durant, a four-time NBA scoring champion and the 2014 league MVP, said the Thunder would face a fired-up Spurs team in San Antonio for Game 5 on Tuesday.

He added: "(The Spurs) have the best defence in the last 15 years. We have to move our bodies and use our athleticism and length.

"We know they'll come at us hard in San Antonio, and we have to be prepared for it."

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 10, 2016, with the headline 'Too much love for Atlanta'. Print Edition | Subscribe