LeBron hits game-winner, gives Cavs confidence as they head to Atlanta


Look out, Atlanta. 

The Cleveland Cavaliers are headed to Philips Arena after taking the first step in figuring out where they’ve gone wrong over the past two months.

During Wednesday’s matchup with the Minnesota Timberwolves, LeBron James blocked Timberwolves’ Jimmy Butler 's jump shot with 1.3 seconds left in overtime and the game tied at 138. 

On the following inbound, James, covered by Butler, was passed the ball at the free throw line from the other side of the floor and sank the game-winning shot as time expired.

“The way we've been playing, we needed that," Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said after the game, according to ESPN. "(James) was very special."

James finished the 140-138 win shooting 16-of-22 from the field and 5-of-7 from three for a game-high 37 points along with 15 assists and 10 rebounds.

In an interview with ESPN after the game, James said the team actually played Cavalier basketball in the win.

“Once I caught it, I just trusted everything I've done in my career," James said.

The Cavaliers still have some progress to make before they’re back to the team they were last season. They let the Timberwolves shoot 58.1 percent from the field and 57.6 percent beyond the arc on Wednesday.

They are also 7-13 since Christmas and have won one out of 11 away games during that time period.

After their first good win in over a month, the Cavaliers started making changes, trading away Isaiah Thomas, Dwyane Wade, Jae Crowder, Derrick Rose and Iman Shumpert before Thursday’s 3 p.m. trade deadline.

The only Cavaliers who won the 2017 NBA Championship with the team that remain on the roster are James, Kevin Love, J.R. Smith, Kyle Korver and Tristan Thompson.

On Friday, the Cavaliers (31-22) with their new players acquired through Thursday’s trades will face Atlanta at Philips Arena at 7:30 p.m. in the two teams’ season-finale.

The Cavaliers have won two out of three matchups against the Hawks this season with their only loss coming on the first game of the series on Nov. 5 at Quicken Loans Arena, 117-115.

The Cavaliers haven’t had a sound win over the last-place Hawks all season. Their last win of the series on Dec. 12 at Quicken Loans Arena was won 123-114 and the last trip to Philips Arena on Nov. 30 wasn’t settled until the final minute of the game.

The Hawks played it close all 48 minutes and came within one after climbing their way back from a 10-point deficit earlier in the fourth. Two late shots by James and Dwayne Wade sealed the game for Cleveland who added to their score with free throws for the last minute.

The Hawks shot 51.9 percent from the field and 38.7 percent from the 3-point line in the loss. Dennis Schroder, who had a team-high of 27 points, shot 11-of-19 from the field in the loss while Kevin Love led the Cavalier with 25 points and 16 rebounds. 

James scored 24 points and had six rebounds and 12 assists.

While the Hawks have usually had small crowds come support the team in the middle of rebuilding for most of the season, one of the largest crowds appeared when the reigning Eastern Conference Champions last came to town. 

The same will most likely be true for Friday which could provide an advantage for the Hawks who have won two out of the last three at home.

Ticket prices have increased fourfold for the Cavaliers’ final game in Atlanta this season. As of Thursday morning, the cheapest ticket on Ticketmaster for Friday’s game starts at $105 without fees for a seat in the rafters in Section 408, Row K. Contrastingly, Sunday’s game against the Detroit Pistons at Philips Arena, a seat in Section 408, Row A starts at $25 without fees.


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