The Atlanta Hawks not only lost the game, but also lost their forward DeMarre Carroll, who limped to the locker room in the final quarter with an injury in the left knee. The Cleveland Cavaliers took the advantage to register a 97-89 victory over the Hawks in game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final Series at Atlanta.
JR Smith took charge to guide Cavs home with his playoff-best of 28 points and 8 rebounds. Australian point-guard Smith was 8 of 12 on three-pointers. Prior to Smith, 8 rebounds and 8 threes have only been achieved by 3 players since the 1985 edition of NBA. The Cavs led 85-67 at a point during the 3rd quarter.
“Probably overlooked in his great shooting performance was the fact that he defended as well as he did and he got eight rebounds,” Cavs coach David Blatt said of Smith.
LeBron James notched up the highest 31 points in game 1. James though only scored one 3-pointer. He also had 8 rebounds and six assists.
Carroll sustained a knee-injury in the 4th quarter with 4:59 minutes remaining. He will now undergo an MRI on Thursday to investigate his injury. Jeff Teague scored 27 points for the Hawks, 17 of which came in the first session. But Atlanta struggled offensively in the second half against a much more organized Cavs defense. Carroll was assigned to guard James and his injury could be a serious blow for the Hawks if he misses out the next games.
“If we continue to attack and we continue to play with pace and move the ball better, then I think that’s going to give us our best chance going into Game 2,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said.
Game 2 is scheduled at Atlanta on Friday.