CLEVELAND - LeBron James scored 23 points, Kyrie Irving returned after missing two games and the Cleveland Cavaliers reserved a spot in the NBA Finals with a 118-88 victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday night to win the Eastern Conference title.
By sweeping the top-seeded Hawks, the Cavs earned their second trip to the finals, where they will face either Golden State or Houston.
It will be the fifth straight visit to the league's showcase event for the inimitable James, who returned to Cleveland after four years in Miami to try and end this city's championship drought dating to 1964.
The Cavs are four wins from doing it, and if they can, James will have a title that would put him in a class by himself. Other players have won more championships, but none has ever done it for his ring-starved home region.
This is why he came back.
Jeff Teague scored 17 and Paul Millsap 16 for Atlanta, which won a team-record 60 games during the regular season and made the conference finals for the first time since 1970. But the Hawks were no match for the Cavaliers and had no answer for James, who nearly averaged a triple-double in the four games.
J.R. Smith added 18 points and Tristan Thompson had 16 points and 11 rebounds.
No suspension for the Rockets' Howard
Rockets center Dwight Howard will not be suspended for Game 5 of the Western Conference finals after the NBA upheld his flagrant 1 foul.
NBA President of Basketball Operations Rod Thorn said iHoward was trying to free himself from Andrew Bogut when Howard "recklessly hit him in the face with an open hand." Thorn says the contact was deemed unnecessary by game officials and the league doesn't "see a reason to modify that call."