James delivers epic game seven as Cavs reach NBA finals
Los Angeles (AFP)
LeBron James finished with 35 points, 15 rebounds and nine assists as the Cleveland Cavaliers reached their fourth straight NBA finals with a 87-79 game-seven victory over the Boston Celtics on Sunday.
James put on another epic postseason performance by carrying his team past the Celtics as he booked a spot in his eighth consecutive finals.
"Win, loss or draw, at end of my career you are never going to get someone to say I didn't leave it out on floor," James said.
Cleveland became the first team to win on the road in the series and the first to beat the Celtics at home in the postseason.
The Cavaliers will take on either the reigning champion Golden State Warriors or Houston Rockets in the championship series. The Warriors dominated the Rockets 115-86 on Saturday to force a decisive game seven which will take place Monday in Houston.
James led the Cavaliers in the first half with 17 points and 10 rebounds but they trailed for much of the half.
It wasn't until the second half that his supporting staff came to life and the Cavaliers were able to wrestle control back from the Celtics.
"He's unbelievable," said Celtics coach Brad Stevens. "I thought it was an outstanding defensive game. And again he still had 35, 15 and nine. It's a joke."
Jeff Green finished with 19 points and eight rebounds, J.R. Smith tallied 12 points and Tristan Thompson scored 10 for Cleveland who beat Boston 109-99 on Friday to force game seven.
- Witness greatness -
"I have learned probably everything alongside possibly the best player to have played this game," said Green. "I am seeing first hand what it is to be great."
Jayson Tatum paced the Celtic attack with 24 points as Boston suffered their only loss in 11 playoff home games.
Al Horford finished with 17 points and Jaylen Brown had 13 but he was just three-of-12 from the three-point line.
Boston made the mistake of using the three pointer as their main offensive weapon down the stretch but they finished a dismal seven-of-39 overall from beyond the arc.
The Celtics ended the first quarter on a 9-0 run and led 43-39 at the half.
Horford scored 14 points and Tatum had 11 in the first half for the Celtics who up until Sunday had played with more intensity and aggressiveness at home during this postseason.
The possibility existed that a loss Sunday would have been James' last game with the Cavaliers.
He can opt out of his $35.6 million contract at the end of the season and become a free agent.
James has said in the past he plans to retire a Cavalier but this is his second stint in Cleveland after he left once before for Miami in 2010. He plans to sit down with management after the season ends but Los Angeles, Philadelphia and New York are believed to be ready to pounce if he becomes available.
The Cavaliers won despite not having Kevin Love, who left game six after banging heads with Boston's Tatum. Love was placed in the league's concussion protocol and his status for the finals is to be determined.
© 2018 AFP