LeBron James is in the middle of a historic playoff run, and he’s hoping to clinch his fifth consecutive trip to the NBA Finals when the Cleveland Cavaliers host the Atlanta Hawks in Game 4. The Cavs have won the first three games of the series, and they’ll look to end things on Tuesday night.
Cleveland took a 3-0 series lead on Sunday when James put up a stat line that the NBA hadn’t seen in years. After missing his first 10 shot attempts, the four-time MVP finished the game with 37 points, 18 rebounds and 13 assists. James hit a few clutch shots in overtime to give the Cavs the 114-111 victory.
James has carried his team as they battle through injuries. A shoulder injury has kept Kevin Love out since Game 4 of the first round, while Kyrie Irving has battled multiple injuries in the playoffs. Irving hasn’t played the last two games because of knee tendonitis, and he’s questionable for Game 4.
In the Game 3 victory, James played a season-high 47 minutes. He also took 37 shot attempts, having averaged just 18.5 field goals per game in the regular season.
James is also dealing with injuries of his own. He suffered leg cramps in Game 3, but stayed in the game to help the Cavs pull out the win. He’s also turned his ankle multiple times this postseason, as well as dealing with back pain.
"I got extensive treatment," James said Monday. "I'm not going to elaborate on exactly what I got. Just right after the game, just started trying to prepare my body and get ready for Game 4."
The Cavs are dealing with injuries to their best players, but a win on Tuesday would give them plenty of time to rest up for the next series. The NBA Finals are scheduled to start on Thursday, June 4, and Cleveland could have an entire week to get healthy.
But Cleveland is not counting on any trip to the NBA Finals, and head coach David Blatt said they are most concerned with putting their best team on the court.
"We need Kyrie on the court, and we're not really thinking about resting him as much as we're thinking about him being healthy to play basketball," Blatt said. "We need him on the court, whether we're up 1‑0 or 2‑1 or 3‑0. That doesn't really mean anything because this is the Conference Finals. There's not a lot of time, and there's not a lot of room for error."
Atlanta was led by 30 points from Jeff Teague on Sunday, and all but 13 of their points came from the starting lineup. Al Horford was seven-of-10 from the field with 14 points until he was ejected for delivering an elbow to Matthew Dellavedova.
DeMarre Carroll entered this series as Atlanta’s leading playoff scorer, but he’s only averaging 7.0 points per game against Cleveland. Paul Millsap’s 13 points per game in the Eastern Conference Finals is 3.7 points fewer than his regular-season average.
The Cavs are betting favorites for a second straight game. They were road underdogs in both Game 1 and Game 2.
Start Time: 8:30 p.m. ET
TV Channel: TNT
Online Stream: TNT Overtime
Point Spread: Cavs by 7.5 points
Over/Under: 194 points
Prediction: Cleveland over Atlanta, 103-95