NBA Eastern Conference finals: LeBron James drags Cavaliers to victory over Celtics to force Game 7

'It feels good just to be able to play for another game,' said LeBron James, who scored 46 points with 11 rebounds and nine assists. ''Game Seven' are the best two words in sports.'

AFP May 26, 2018 09:36:37 IST
NBA Eastern Conference finals: LeBron James drags Cavaliers to victory over Celtics to force Game 7

Cleveland: LeBron James produced another epic playoff performance on Friday as the Cleveland Cavaliers stayed alive in the NBA playoffs with a 109-99 victory over the Boston Celtics.

Trailing the Celtics 3-2 and facing elimination in the Eastern Conference finals, the Cavaliers triumphed in a bruising encounter on their home floor to knot the best-of-seven series at 3-3 and force Game Seven in Boston on Sunday.

NBA Eastern Conference finals LeBron James drags Cavaliers to victory over Celtics to force Game 7

Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James. AP

In order to punch their ticket to a fourth straight NBA Finals, the Cavs will have to be the first team to win on the road in the series, and the first to beat Boston at home in this post-season.

"It feels good just to be able to play for another game," said James, who has been to seven straight NBA Finals with Miami and Cleveland. "'Game Seven' are the best two words in sports and for us to be on the road in another hostile environment where we've had no success up to this point, we should relish the opportunity."

James poured in 46 points with 11 rebounds and nine assists. It was his seventh 40-point performance of the 2018 playoffs, tying Chicago Bulls great Michael Jordan (1989) for second-most 40-point games in a single post-season behind the eight of Jerry West in 1965.

James also passed Karl Malone (2,062) for sixth place all-time in playoff rebounds on Friday.

James scored 25 points in playing every minute of the first half, when the Cavaliers absorbed the blow of losing Kevin Love to a head injury and then out-scored the Celtics 34-18 in the second quarter to take control of the game.

Cleveland led by as many as 16 in the third quarter, but the advantage was down to seven with 2:47 to play when James unleased back-to-back three-pointers and converted a layup to push the Cavs lead back to 109-96.

He departed the game with less than a minute remaining to a frenzied ovation.

George Hill scored 20 points, and Jeff Green added 14 for Cleveland.

Terry Rozier scored 28 points to lead the Celtics, who are trying to return to the NBA Finals for the first time since 2010. Jaylen Brown scored 27 for Boston, who led by five at the end of a spirited first quarter but finally had no answer for James.

The winner of the series will take on either the reigning champion Golden State Warriors or Houston Rockets in the championship series. The Rockets lead the Western Conference finals 3-2.

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