LeBron James booked his eighth straight NBA finals appearance, delivering another epic game-seven performance on the road as the Cleveland Cavaliers rallied to beat the Boston Celtics 87-79 on Sunday. The 33-year-old James played all 48 minutes and finished with 35 points, 15 rebounds and nine assists for the Cavaliers who are in the league championship for the fourth consecutive year. “This is the last chapter for our team this season,” said James. “It’s been a whirlwind. It has been roses. There have been thorns in the roses. This is one of the most challenging seasons I have had.”
Cleveland became the first team to win on the road in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference championship series and the first to beat the Celtics at home in the postseason. “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,” the four-time league MVP James said. 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 believes that they can out hustle, outsmart and out coach whoever they face in the final. “We have and opportunity to win a championship. No matter whether we are picked to win or not, we have a great game plan. We are going to try to get better throughout the series,” he said.
James led the Cavaliers in the first half with 17 points and 10 rebounds but they trailed for much of the half in front of a crowd of 18,600 at the Boston Garden. It wasn’t until the second half that his supporting cast came to life and the Cavaliers were able to wrestle control back from the Celtics in the low-scoring contest. “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 ridiculous and he does it with the pressure and scrutiny.
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. Los Angeles, Philadelphia and New York are believed to be ready to pounce if he becomes available.