LeBron James scored 31 points and J.R. Smith made eight 3-pointers and added 28, leading the Cleveland Cavaliers past the top-seeded Atlanta Hawks 97-89 in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals Wednesday night.
Intent on bringing Cleveland its first NBA title, James sealed the victory with a soaring dunk in the final minute. But Smith was the one who ignited the Cavaliers, going 8 of 12 from 3-point range.
For the Hawks, it was the second straight series in which they’ve lost the opening game at home. Cleveland will look to take command of the series in Game 2 Friday night.
Jeff Teague led Atlanta with 27 points. But the night really turned sour for the Hawks when DeMarre Carroll, their leading scorer in the playoffs, went down with what appeared to be a left knee injury driving to the basket with 4:59 remaining. He was helped to the locker room, not putting any weight on his knee.