Original Story | www.nytimes.com
May 5, 2016
By Victor Mather

 

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Three-point records have fallen rapidly this season, mostly to the mighty Warriors. On April 24, Golden State sank 21 in a first-round game against the Rockets, setting a playoff record.

But on Wednesday night, the Cavaliers took that record away and added another: Cleveland sank 25 3-pointers, not just the most in a playoff game, but better than the regular-season team record, as well.

The Cavaliers’ 3-point marksmanship has been overlooked this season in the shadow of the Warriors. While Golden State made 1,077 3-pointers, a record, Cleveland made 880 treys of its own, the fifth-highest total of all time. J. R. Smith led the way with 204, but Kevin Love, Matthew Dellavedova, LeBron James and many others had 3-point punch, as well.

Ten players sank 3s in Wednesday’s game, Smith hit seven, one off his season high, and James and Kyrie Irving had four each.

“J. R. is the only one on the team who has the ultra-green light,” James told reporters after the game. “It’s fluorescent.”

The Cavs shot 25 for 45 from 3-point range. They made and attempted more 3s than 2s, as well as shooting them at a higher percentage, .556.

The Hawks could not stand up to the barrage of 3s and were never in the game, which ended, 123-98. Atlanta was 11 for 27 from 3-point range, with no player making more than two.

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“With Kevin posting the basketball, smaller guys have to double team,” Coach Tyronn Lue explained to The Cleveland Plain Dealer. “With LeBron being aggressive and driving the ball to the basket, and Kyrie getting to the basket, teams are trying to shut the driving lanes off. That makes for guys kicking it out.”

The previous regular-season record was 23, shared by the 2009 Magic against the Kings (five by Jameer Nelson) and the 2013 Rockets against the Warriors (five by Jeremy Lin).

Since the adoption of the 3-point shot, teams have been hoisting up bombs, hoping to steal a last-second win, rally from a deficit or punctuate a win. The trey was initially dismissed as a gimmick, used only in unusual situations. But it has increasingly been a crucial weapon in the game.

Just about every 3-point record that can be thought up has fallen in the last few seasons. Stephen Curry made 402, shattering his own record of 286 from the season before. The Warriors set the team record, and the team made, on average, 8.5 3s a game, up from 5.7 a decade ago and 0.8 in the first season of the shot, 1979-80.

After a sweep of the Pistons (with 12, 20, 12 and 13 3-pointers), the Cavs now lead the Hawks, two games to none (15 and 25).

The Cavaliers are 6-0 and untroubled in the playoffs so far. Playing in the weaker East, they look like a good bet to make the finals.

 

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Mariah Mendez