eBron James scored 30 points and the Cleveland Cavaliers took total command of the Eastern Conference final even without injured star Kyrie Irving, routing the Atlanta Hawks, 94-82, on Friday night for a 2-0 lead with the series heading to Ohio.
The Cavaliers made it a blowout with a dominating third quarter. James scored 11 points, the Hawks shot just 32% (seven of 22), and Cleveland led by as many as 20 before settling for an 84-66 lead heading to the final period.
Irving was scratched before the game because of an ailing left knee. He wasn't missed a bit.
James assumed many of the ball-handling duties, taking advantage of DeMarre Carroll clearly not being at 100% after he went down with a knee injury late in Game 1. Carroll started after being carried off the court just two nights earlier but hardly looked like the "Junkyard Dog."
He wasn't the only one struggling. The Hawks looked totally outclassed for one of the few times all season.
The Cavaliers can wrap up the best-of-seven series simply by winning at home. The next two are in Cleveland, beginning with Game 3 on Sunday night.
Tristan Thompson led another dominating performance for the Cavaliers on the boards. He had 16 rebounds and Cleveland finished with a 47-39 advantage.
When Thompson dunked off a pass from James with just under five minutes remaining, the Cavaliers had a 93-74 lead and many Atlanta fans began heading for the exits, perhaps knowing they had seen their team for the last time in this most unexpected season. Atlanta won a franchise-record 60 games to claim the top seed in the East, but the Hawks were picked apart by the best player in the world.
Forget the Big Three.
The Big One was plenty of the Cavaliers, who are two wins away from returning to the NBA Finals and taking another crack at their first championship.
This is why James returned to his de facto hometown after spending four years in Miami, leading the Heat to a pair of titles. The Cavaliers assembled a Miami-like trio with James, Irving and Kevin Love, but the King is doing just fine on his own with Irving hobbled and Love out with a season-ending injury.
The Hawks had hoped Carroll's appearance would provide an emotional boost. An injury that looked much more serious when he was helped off the court in Game 1 turned out to be only a sprain, and he drew a big cheer from the crowd when he did his customary sprint across the court during the opening introductions.
But at less than full speed, Carroll had no chance trying to guard James, who made 10 of 22 shots, including a pair of three-pointers. When the Hawks began collapsing toward the lane, trying to give Carroll help, James always seemed to fine the open man — often lurking behind the three-point arc.
James had 11 assists, and the Cavaliers finished 12 of 30 beyond the arc. The King just missed a triple-double, grabbing nine rebounds.
Dennis Schroder led the Hawks with just 13 points. Carroll managed only six points in just under 34 minutes.