Cavaliers sweep Hawks as LeBron James reaches fifth consecutive NBA Finals

11:56 p.m. EDT May 26, 2015  CLEVELAND — Breaking down Cleveland's 118-88 series-clinching victory over the Atlanta Hawks in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals:

What happened: The Cavaliers overwhelmed the Hawks, and it was hardly a game from the opening tip. Cleveland grabbed an early lead, took a 24-14 advantage late in the first quarter and cruised to an easy sweep. It is Cleveland's first trip to the Finals since 2007, and LeBron James' fifth consecutive Finals appearance. He joins a list of former Boston Celtics players to reach five consecutive Finals, but he is just the first to do it with different teams.

A LeBron James series: James had 23 points, nine rebounds and seven assists, and for the four-game series, he averaged 30.1 points, 11 rebounds and 9.3 assists.

Irving in the starting lineup: Cavs guard Kyrie Irving (tendinitis left knee, strained right foot) played in Game 4, his first appearance since Game 1 of the conference finals. Irving played 22 minutes, scored 16 points and looked like he is getting closer to his regular self. He scored driving to the basket and he scored from the perimeter. That's a good sign for the Cavaliers who will need that from Irving in the Finals. The Cavs can give Irving rest and treatment for almost a week before traveling again.

What worked for the Cavs: Cleveland shot 51.7% from the field in the first half and 57.1% on threes in the first quarter and had a 20-point lead in the first half and a 59-42 lead at halftime. The game was over early. Cavs big men Timofey Mozgov (14 points, seven rebounds) and Tristan Thompson (16 points, 11 rebounds) gave the Hawks trouble. J.R. Smith his second consecutive double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds.

What worked for the Hawks: Jeff Teague scored 17 points and Paul Millsap had 16 points, but that was just about it for the Hawks who had trouble scoring the entire series.

What didn't work for the Hawks: Atlanta struggled with three-point shooting the entire series (26-for-111, 23.4%), and it continued in Game 4. The Hawks started 2-for-18 on threes and finished 5-for-32 – that from the second-best three-point shooting team during the regular season. Al Horford, who was ejected from Game 3 for a flagrant foul 2, scored just two points.

What happened to the Hawks: The East's No. 1 seed with 60 regular-season victories, four All-Stars and coach of the year Mike Budenholzer were just not the same efficient team in the playoffs. Injuries hurt in the Eastern Conference finals: DeMarre Carroll sprained his left knee in Game 1, Kyle Korver sustained a season-ending injury in Game 2, and it's safe bet Millsap (shoulder) and Horford (finger) were not 100%. They also were without Thabo Sefolosha.

What's next: The Cavs await the winner of the Houston Rockets-Golden State Warriors Western Conference finals. The Warriors lead 3-1 and can wrap up the series Wednesday night. Game 1 of the Finals is June 4 and the Western Conference representative has home-court advantage.

FINAL 1 2 3 4 Score
Atlanta Hawks         (60-22) 20 22 18 28 88
Cleveland Cavaliers (53-29) 32 27 26 33 118

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