Cleveland, Ohio, USA: LeBron James led all scorers with 46 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists Friday night, to carry the Cleveland Cavaliers to a 109-99 win over the Boston Celtics at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, tying the Eastern Conference finals at 3-3.
George Hill enjoyed his best game of the series for the Cavaliers with 20 points, while reserve Jeff Green chipped in 14 and Larry Nance Jr. hit for 10 points. They helped make up for the loss of forward Kevin Love, who lasted five minutes before leaving with a possible concussion after a collision with Celtics rookie Jayson Tatum. Love’s status for Game 7 is uncertain.
Terry Rozier pumped in six 3-pointers and led Boston with 28 points while Jaylen Brown gunned in 27. Tatum finished with 15 but was largely a non-entity during the first half. Reserves Marcus Morris and Marcus Smart scored 10 points each.
Cleveland led for most of the last 2 1/2 quarters, although the Celtics made things interesting in the fourth quarter when they cut the deficit to seven on multiple occasions. But James drilled back-to-back 3-pointers in a 43-second span to up the lead to 107-96 and quash remaining suspense.
The Cavaliers also dominated the glass and reaped the benefits of the foul line. Cleveland finished with a 44-31 advantage in rebounding, including 15-5 on the offensive boards, and went 18-of-22 at the stripe. Boston was a poor 11-of-20 at the line.
The Celtics actually got off to a good start, unlike one-sided Game 3 and 4 losses in Cleveland. Brown lit it up with 15 first-quarter points, converting a pullup with 8.3 seconds remaining that put Boston ahead 25-20.
Things turned for good in the second quarter, when the Celtics could only manage 18 points. James’ floater with 21.8 seconds remaining wrapped up a 25-point half and helped usher the Cavaliers into the locker room with a 54-43 advantage.
Game 7 of the series is Sunday night, May 27, in Boston, with the winner meeting either Houston or Golden State in the NBA Finals. The home team has won every game so far in the series, and none has been closer than nine points.
The Celtics are perfect in Boston this postseason with 10th straight wins at home and are within one win of their first trip to the NBA Finals since 2010.
The Rockets take a 3-2 series lead into Game 6 of the Western Conference finals in Oakland, California.