Atlanta Hawks Hanging By Thin Thread, Lose Third Straight To Cavs

The Atlanta Hawks are one game away from elimination after losing a third straight game to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference finals. After comfortable wins for Cleveland in the first two games, this one needed overtime after a close fourth quarter concluded with both sides tied 104-104 at the end of regulation. In the end, the Atlanta Hawks fell short, losing 114-111 to a determined Cleveland Cavaliers, led by an outstanding Lebron James who posted an incredible, historic triple double — 37 points, 18 rebounds and 13 assists.

The Hawks’ hopes of reaching NBA finals were already slim after they had lost the first two games of the series on their home court last week, and with Game 4 scheduled for Cleveland’s Quicken Loans Arena on Wednesday, the prospects of a Cavs sweep seem ever likelier.

In truth, the Atlanta Hawks, despite finishing top of the Eastern Conference with 60 wins, were already at a disadvantage coming into the series. with guard Thabo Sefolosha missing the playoffs after reportedly suffering a broken leg after a confrontation with New York city police officers in April.

The Hawks did manage to get past Washington without Sefolosha, but they’ve found the Lebron James-led Cavaliers a tougher proposition. Yet, if the Hawks found the first two games tough — Cleveland won both with room to spare — they entered game three in worse shape following injuries to Demarre Carroll and Kyle Korver. Carroll would recover from a sprained knee to start in Cleveland, but Korver will miss the rest of the playoffs with a high-ankle sprain.

To be fair, the Cavaliers had problems of their own, losing Kevin Love from the first round of the playoffs, and also having to leave out Kyrie Irving after he also picked up an injury in game one.

Atlanta Hawks started strongly and led by three points after the first quarter. James’ early struggles — 3 of 16 shooting — gave the Hawks some room early on, but Cleveland clawed their way back after that and with James shooting at will, and beginning to find his range in the third quarter, the Hawks trailed by eight points going into the fourth quarter. By then, the Atlanta Hawks’ task had become even tougher following Al Horford’s ejection for a flagrant foul in the 2nd quarter.

Jeff Teague led a late comeback for the Hawks, and they took the game into overtime after both sides missed chances to seal it in the final minute.

Teague and James swapped three pointers in overtime, but it was the Cavs that got the stops when they needed them and James’ layup sealed the win — and edged Atlanta Hawks one step closer to elimination.

[Photo by Gregory Shamus / Getty Images]