The Cavs pulled it off but it wasn’t easy by any means.
LeBron James shook off an atrocious shooting start and withstood Atlanta’s gritty comeback to record a triple-double, and the Cleveland Cavaliers moved within one win of the NBA Finals by beating the Hawks 114-111 in overtime on Sunday night to take a 3-0 series lead.
James missed his first 10 shots, but finished with 37 points, 18 rebounds and 13 assists. The Cavs needed every single one of them to hold off the top-seeded Hawks, who fought Cleveland until the final seconds despite being without injured shooter Kyle Korver and losing Al Horford, who was ejected in the first half.
Down 10 in the fourth, the Hawks showed championship toughness and nearly pulled off a win that would have guaranteed them another home game on Thursday. They’ll have to dig deep again, and they are facing long odds to win the series as no NBA team has ever overcome a 3-0 deficit.
Without Korver, the Hawks were missing one of their most reliable offensive weapons, though the dead-eyed shooter had been off the mark during much of this postseason. He was replaced in the starting lineup by Kent Bazemore, who earlier in the day stood by his comments that he believed the Hawks were the better team.
They started well, getting eight points from Horford while taking a 12-4 lead. But his ejection was costly and the Hawks are now one loss from having their season end.