CLEVELAND — Random dribbles heading into Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals between the Cavaliers and Hawks:
1. Just one victory. The Cavs may as well get it out of the way. With the Warriors losing to the Rockets on Monday, the Cavs have a chance to become the most well-rested team heading into the Finals. But they need to finish the job Tuesday and earn their recovery time.
2. These playoffs have been one big bruise (and sometimes worse). The NBA community held its collective breath when league MVP and Warriors guard Stephen Curry took a nasty spill in Game 4 vs. the Rockets. He appeared to eventually be OK. That’s good. The last thing the league needs is another injury to another key player.
3. Speaking of which, Kyrie Irving is again questionable for the Cavs. He’s moving pretty well and putting up lots of shots. I can tell you he sure hasn’t lost his shooting touch. But with a sore foot and knee tendinitis, another game off probably wouldn’t hurt. While the Cavs want the sweep, all they really need to do is win one of the next four. They’ve won twice without Kyrie already — so may as well give him another day of recovery.
4. That said, Kyrie really wants to play. I wouldn’t be surprised if he gave it a try. If he does, and the Cavs win, he’ll still have eight days off before the Finals begin June 4.
5. The Cavs have held a 3-0 series lead on four previous occasions: 2007 vs. the Wizards, 2009 vs. the Pistons, 2009 vs. the Hawks, and this season vs. the Celtics. Each time, the Cavs completed the sweep. And yes, each time, LeBron James was on the team.
6. How good has guard J.R. Smith been off the bench? After starting every regular-season game (and four playoff games) after arriving in January, Smith has now played a reserve role seven straight times. In those seven games, he’s averaging 15.0 points on 50 percent shooting and 5.0 rebounds a night.
7. The Cavs’ 114 points in Game 3 were a playoff high. Including both the regular season and playoffs, they’re 27-0 at home when scoring 100 or more. They have won six straight in the postseason, are 11-2 overall. Their lone playoff road loss came on a banked-in buzzer-beating 3-pointer from the Bulls’ Derrick Rose.
8. Hawks forward Paul Millsap on the 3-0 hole: "No matter what happens, we’re still going to be confident. We believe in our team. We believe in the guys that we have. We feel like we can do something special, whether this year, next year, whatever. We’re going to stick to this. It’s not over `til it’s over."
9. LeBron on potentially reaching the Finals: "It’s been my goal since I got back (to Cleveland), not only to get back, but to win, win the whole thing. That’s my goal. It’s part of my drive. That’s what it’s about."
10. Believe it or not, Cavs coach David Blatt could use some non-game days, too. He’s been through a lot this season — particularly when it comes to the multiple media reports that he’s about to be canned. There seems to be a new one every month, and none of them is true. Instead, Blatt has kept his team motivated, playing hard, and especially, defending. But coaching in the NBA playoffs can take quite a toll on one’s mental and physical health.
11. Finally, as ESPN first reported, Cavs power forward Kevin Love has been cleared to travel with the team after shoulder surgery. He had not been attending away games. Also, he no longer needs to wear a sling. Blood-clotting can sometimes result from air travel the first few weeks after surgery.