Super 8: LeBron James muscles his way back to the Finals
BOSTON -- LeBron James stood below the baseline and glared at Terry Rozier, seemingly incredulous that the Boston Celtics' young point guard would have the audacity to try to dunk in transition with James in the vicinity.
It's a scene that we've seen play out countless times now. And while the chase-down block might be James' signature version, this more traditional swat was no less remarkable. Even as the springy Rozier launched at the basket in transition, James simply rose up and smothered the attempt late in the third quarter.
And as play broke out the other way, James kept glaring in the direction of Rozier. And glaring. Until all nine other players on the floor were over the half-court stripe.
James, playing his 100th game of the season, logged a full 48 minutes. He finished with 35 points on 12-of-24 shooting with 15 rebounds and 9 assists.
For the eighth straight year, James' team will represent the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals. But this may have been one of his more remarkable accomplishments.
James helped Cleveland overcome a 3-2 series deficit, winning twice even after Kevin Love -- maybe the most capable of his otherwise underwhelming supporting cast -- was lost to a concussion early in Game 6.
The Celtics had been a spotless 10-0 this postseason at TD Garden before James & Co. delivered a lone season-ending blemish.
James now has won six straight Game 7s. The Cavaliers are the first team since the 2008 Celtics to win multiple Game 7s to get to the Finals.
The Celtics will look back and lament missed opportunities, including one sequence in the fourth quarter where they briefly surged ahead.
During that spurt, Jayson Tatum drove hard to the hoop and dunked over James. The rookie then gave James a little post-dunk bump while exulting. Tatum's 3-pointer after a James turnover put Boston back out front 72-71 with 6 minutes, 4 seconds to play.
James took care of the rest.
The Celtics had pushed their lead to as high as 12 early in the second quarter but endured one of their all-too-familiar scoring droughts. Boston went six minutes while mustering just one field goal -- a Marcus Morris second-chance fadeaway -- and the Cavaliers put together a little burst to pull within two with under three minutes to play in the half.
The Celtics finished a wildly successful season in which they exceeded all expectations considering the injuries and adversity they faced.