Love delivers as Cavs sweep Hawks

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(The Sports Xchange) - Atlanta coach Mike Budenholzer's latest strategy against the Cleveland Cavaliers was to make Kevin Love hit enough shots to beat the Hawks.

Love obliged on Sunday in Game 4, scoring 27 points, including eight 3-pointers, in the Cavs' series-clinching 100-99 win over the Hawks at Philips Arena.

The Cavaliers advanced to the Eastern Conference finals for the second straight season and will await the winner of the Toronto Raptors-Miami Heat series.

Kyrie Irving scored 21 points and had eight assists, and LeBron James added 21 points, 10 rebounds, nine assists and made a big defensive stand on the Hawks' final possession.

With Cleveland leading 100-99 with 10 seconds to play, James tied up Atlanta point guard Dennis Schroder on a drive inside the paint and won the ensuing jump ball to help the Cavs hang on.

Cleveland were sizzling hot from the 3-point line throughout the series, hitting 16 on Sunday -- 10 in the first half -- and made 62 in the final three games of the series.

"I think we hit our stride at the right time," Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue said. "The last three or four weeks of the season we really started playing good basketball on both ends of the court, and it's carried over."

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Love delivers as Cavs sweep Hawks
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - JUNE 12: LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat reads a book in the locker room prior to Game One of the 2012 NBA Finals against Oklahoma City Thunder at the Chesapeake Energy Arena on June 12, 2012 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2012 NBAE (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler /NBAE via Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - JUNE 9: Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors gets ready in the locker room before a game against the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game Three of the 2015 NBA Finals on June 9, 2015 at The Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, OH. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2015 NBAE (Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 9: Chris Paul #3 of the Los Angeles Clippers warms up in the locker room before facing the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game Three of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2014 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center on May 9, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CA - APRIL 24: Blake Griffin #32 of the Los Angeles Clippers in the locker room before facing the Golden State Warriors in Game Three of the Western Conference Quarterfinals at Oracle Arena on April 24, 2014 in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)
OKLAHOMA CITY - MARCH 10: Kevin Durant #35 of the Oklahoma City Thunder listens to music in front of his locker before the game against the New Orleans Hornets on March 10, 2010 at the Ford Center in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. (Photo by Chris Covatta/NBAE via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - 2001: Allen Iverson #3 of the Philadelphia 76ers prepares in the locker room before a 2001 NBA game against the Los Angeles Lakers at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS - JUNE 11: Brian Shaw #20 of the Los Angeles Lakers relaxes in the locker room prior to playing the Indiana Pacers in Game Three of the 2000 NBA Finals played June 11, 2000 at Conseco Field House in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
SACRAMENTO, CA - 1993: Ralph Sampson of the Sacramento Kings in the locker room in 1993 in Sacramento, California.(Photo by Ronald C. Modra/ Getty Images)
General view of the locker room of the Sacramento Kings. (Photo by Rick Stewart via Getty Images)
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - MAY 7: Kendrick Perkins #5 of the Oklahoma City Thunder warms up in a hallway outside the locker room before playing the Memphis Grizzlies in Game Two of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2013 NBA Playoffs on May 7, 2013 at the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2013 NBAE (Photo by Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL, 24: Washington Wizards center Marcin Gortat (4) has a moment in the hall outside the locker room prior to game action against the Toronto Raptors in game three action on April 24, 2015 in Washington, DC. (Jonathan Newton / The Washington Post via Getty Images)
BOSTON - JUNE 05: Ray Allen #20 of the Boston Celtics stretches in the locker room prior to Game One of the 2008 NBA Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers on June 5, 2008 at the TD Banknorth Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright: 2008 NBAE (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - JUNE 11: Teammates Mike Miller #18 of the Cleveland Cavaliers and James Jones #1 of the Cleveland Cavaliers together in the locker room prior to Game Four of the 2015 NBA Finals at The Quicken Loans Arena on June 11, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2015 NBAE (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 13: Austin Rivers #25 of the Los Angeles Clippers in the locker room before the game against the Cleveland Cavaliers at STAPLES Center on March 13, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2016 NBAE (Photo by Juan O'Campo/NBAE via Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - MAY 12: Blake Griffin #32 of the Los Angeles Clippers stretches in the locker room before a game against the Houston Rockets in Game Five of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2015 NBA Playoffs on May 12, 2015 at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2015 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - APRIL 19: Joe Johnson #7 of the Brooklyn Nets in the locker room before the game against the Atlanta Hawks in Game One of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the NBA Playoffs on April 19, 2015 at Philips Arena in Atlanta, Georgia. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2015 NBAE (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 31: Ryan Hollins #15 of the Los Angeles Clippers stretches in the locker room before a game against the Golden State Warriors at STAPLES Center on October 31, 2013 at in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2013 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - JUNE 19: Kevin Durant #35 of the Oklahoma City Thunder listens to music in the locker room before facing the Miami Heat in Game Four of the 2012 NBA Finals at American Airlines Arena on June 19, 2012 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2012 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
AUBURN HILLS, MI - MAY 15: Rasheed Wallace #36 of the Detroit Pistons gets ready in the locker room hot tub before a game against the Chicago Bulls in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 2007 NBA Playoffs on May 15, 2007 at the Palace of Auburn Hills in Auburn Hills, Michigan. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2007 NBAE (Photo by Allen Einstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
PHOENIX - MAY 30: Dirk Nowitzki #41 of the Dallas Mavericks stretches in the locker room before the game against the Phoenix Suns in game four of the Western Conference Finals during the 2006 NBA Playoffs on May 30, 2006 at US Airways Center in Phoenix, Arizona. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2006 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
BOSTON - JUNE 08: (L-R) Kevin Garnett and Sam Cassell of the Boston Celtics celebrate in the locker room after their 108-102 win against the Los Angeles Lakers in Game Two of the 2008 NBA Finals on June 8, 2008 at the TD Banknorth Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright: 2008 NBAE (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty Images)
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Schroder paced a balanced Atlanta offense that had five players finish in double figures. He hit back-to-back layups late in the fourth quarter, the second putting the Hawks ahead 97-96 with 1:31 to play.

But he could not put one past James on his last shot.

James scored on a goaltending call and a jumper in the final two minutes, and Tristan Thompson also had a key block on Schroder late for the Cavs.

Cleveland can look forward to some rest.

In the other Eastern Conference semi-final, Toronto lead Miami 2-1 in what has been a tight, physical series that has seen both teams suffer injuries to key players.

The Cavs are unbeaten in the playoffs with James, Irving and Love all healthy.

"We're in a great rhythm right now," James said. "We know where everyone is on the floor and exactly where we should be."

Schroder finished with 21 points, and Paul Millsap added 19 for Atlanta.

Atlanta enjoyed their biggest lead of the series, up 12 in the second quarter, but it never felt like the Hawks were in control or would be able to withstand an inevitable challenge from the Cavaliers.

That challenge came in the third quarter, and when Love completed a four-point play with a free throw that followed his eighth 3-pointer. Cleveland led 79-75 and looked poised to put away the Hawks in the fourth.

Every time Love got open for a 3-pointer, the Philips Arena crowd gasped in anticipation. Eight times their gasps were followed by groans.

Budenholzer threw everything at the Cavs, switching up his starting lineup and intentionally fouling Thompson, but none of the adjustments produced a win.

"They create a lot of mismatches," Budenholzer said. "We tried to take away significant parts of their team and their offense, and our players executed everything we asked of them, I would say, at a very high level.

"At some point, Kevin Love may be an option that they have to get to, and he has to make enough shots for four quarters or four games, whatever it may be. It's really on me at the end of the day. Our players did everything I asked them to do."

The Hawks head into the offseason knowing they are not any closer to beating Cleveland, despite making their ninth consecutive playoff appearance -- the longest active streak in the East.

It is the second straight season Atlanta have been swept out of the playoffs by James and the Cavaliers.

The question is do they blow up the core of the team that has led them to multiple playoff series wins the past two seasons? Both center Al Horford and swingman Kent Bazemore are in contract years.

"Our season just ended, minutes ago," Budenholzer said when asked about the offseason. "At the appropriate time, we'll sit down, we'll discuss. I know we feel strongly about our group."

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