LeBron James scored 35 points and passed Michael Jordan to become the NBAs all-time playoff scoring leader as the Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Boston Celtics 135-102
LeBron James scored 35 points and passed Michael Jordan to become the NBAs all-time playoff scoring leader as the Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Boston Celtics 135-102 on Thursday night to claim their third straight Eastern Conference title and a return trip to the NBA finals.
Kyrie Irving added 24 points and Kevin Love finished with 15 for the Cavs, who never trailed and led by as many as 39 points in one of their most dominating wins of the series. The Cavs set an NBA record by winning their 13th consecutive series closeout opportunity.
Clevelands 4-1 series win gives them a 12-1 record this postseason and sets up a third consecutive matchup with Western Conference champion Golden State, the team it beat in the Finals last season to claim the franchises first championship. It will mark the seventh straight trip to the finals for James.
This team is a crazy team. They just stayed resilient all year, got to the playoffs, and we really stepped our game up, Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said. Now we can start focusing on Golden State to get ready. As of tonight, Ill get started.
Avery Bradley led Boston with 23 points.
The Cavaliers effectively conceded the Easts top seed to the Celtics at the end of the regular season by opting to rest their starters in advance of the playoffs. But they displayed their superiority over the final two games to wrap up the series.
After allowing the Celtics to seize the early momentum in Game 4, the Cavs barely gave them the chance in Game 5. Led by their Big Three, Cleveland quickly built a 21-point lead in the first quarter, while getting plenty of contributions from their team-mates. Love continued to knock down shots from the outside, Irving sliced his way into the lane to the rim and James got free for several of his one-handed, tomahawk dunks.
It was a welcome sight in Irvings case, after he rolled his left ankle in the third quarter of Clevelands Game 4 win. He showed no signs of lingering issues, though, beating several defenders off the dribble and handing out seven assists. Meanwhile, JR Smith and Kyle Korver all helped spread out Bostons defenders by connecting on several wide-open scoring opportunities. Deron Williams, who had been quiet for most of the series, also got in on the act with a series-best 14 points for Cleveland.
The Celtics did their best to keep up, but the consistent outside shooting, bench scoring and defense they relied on to stun Cleveland in Game 3 wasnt there Thursday night.
I thought we played a little too haphazard tonight, Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. Our offensive mistakes led to bad defense, and it just kind of snowballed on us.
He said though hes disappointed with how the season ended, hes encouraged that no one in Bostons locker room is satisfied just making it to the conference finals.
I told our guys: We made a lot of great strides, but this pain is part of the path to what we ultimately want to be, he said.