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Cavaliers beat Celtics in Game 7 to advance to the NBA Finals

NBA: Playoffs-Cleveland Cavaliers at Boston Celtics David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

A road team finally won a game in the Eastern Conference Finals, and as a result the Cleveland Cavaliers are back in the NBA Finals for a fourth consecutive year. Cleveland beat the Boston Celtics 87-79 on Sunday night at TD Garden in Boston, snapping the Celtics’ 10-game home winning streak in this postseason.

LeBron James had 35 points, 15 rebounds and nine assists in the win, and is now in the NBA Finals for an astonishing eighth straight season.

Boston led by as many as 12 points in the first half but Cleveland clawed their way back thanks to 19 points and eight rebounds from Jeff Green, making just his second start of the postseason.

Jayson Tatum scored 24 in defeat for the Celtics.

The NBA Finals start on Thursday at either Houston or Golden State. The Rockets and Warriors decide the Western Conference Finals with their own Game 7 on Monday night in Houston.

Cavaliers 87, Celtics 79 (Final)

Cleveland is in the NBA Finals for a fourth consecutive season, and LeBron James is headed to an eighth straight Finals. He delivered the dagger with a driving layup while getting fouled.

Cavaliers 76, Celtics 73 (3:47, 4Q)

The fourth quarter has been back-and-forth. Jayson Tatum, a rookie by the way, is having another incredible game with 24 points, and a personal 5-0 spurt gave the Celtics a brief lead. The highlight was this hammer dunk on LeBron James.

Cavaliers 67, Celtics 66 (9:12, 4Q)

Boston is 10-0 at home this postseason, so it’s no surprise they answered with an 8-2 run to open the final quarter. Al Horford has 17 points, including a three-point play on the receiving end of this alley oop:

Cavaliers 59, Celtics 56 (End 3Q)

We are 12 minutes away (maybe) from deciding the Eastern Conference rep in the NBA Finals, and Cleveland has a lead heading into the fourth. LeBron James has 23 points, 12 rebounds and five assists, and his three in the final minute of the third quarter broke a tie.

More reaction: Fear the Sword (Cavaliers) | Celtics Blog

Cavaliers 56, Celtics 53 (2:55, 3Q)

Cleveland used a 9-0 run to build a lead, and LeBron James is right in the middle of everything. Not just on offense either. Just ask Terry Rozier:

Then James admired his work, as one does.

Cavaliers 53, Celtics 51 (4:20, 3Q)

Jeff Green started the first game of the playoffs for Cleveland, and scored no points in 26 minutes against Indiana. His second postseason start for the Cavs is tonight, and he’s making the most of it. Green has 15 points on 6-of-10 shooting and five rebounds as the Cavs took their largest lead: two points.

And the Oscar goes to...

Marcus Smart drew an offensive foul on LeBron James in the final minute of the second quarter, falling to the ground after getting hit by James. But what makes this play great wasn’t just the flop by Smart after his face wasn’t touched at all...

That was a Rocky III-level performance, award-worthy by Smart, but what really took it to the next level was afterward him continuing to sell the bit but adjusting his jaw.

Insert chef’s kiss emoji here. Just brilliant work.

Celtics 43, Cavaliers 39 (halftime)

Boston led by as many as 12 in the first half and head to the break with the advantage, though Cleveland has cut into the lead. Long distance shooting was woeful, with the Cavaliers just 2-for-17 (11.8%) from three-point range and the Celtics 4-for-19 (21.1%).

Remember, as Aron Baynes reminded us, it’s always important to look before sitting down.

Celtics 39, Cavaliers 37 (1:45, 2Q)

Cleveland used a 12-2 run to stay close, with LeBron’s supporting cast starting to contribute. Jeff Green has seven points on 3-of-5 shooting, and George Hill is out there channeling George Gervin with this finger roll:

Celtics 35, Cavaliers 23 (6:47, 2Q)

Boston has widened their lead. LeBron James has 14 points on 5-of-10 shooting, but his teammates are just 3-for-15. That seems rather bad.

Celtics 26, Cavaliers 18 (End 1Q)

Boston ended the first quarter on a 9-0 run. Jayson Tatum led the way with nine in the opening period, and Al Horford had eight on 3-of-4 shooting.

Celtics 17, Cavaliers 16 (2:58, 1Q)

LeBron James briefly gave Cleveland a lead with this driving layup and one in traffic. He has 12 points to lead everyone.

But Boston took the lead right back, as noted by Mike Breen on ESPN there have only been 14 lead changes in the entire series.

Celtics 13, Cavaliers 10 (5:06, 1Q)

A tradition continues, for Celtics forward Al Horford.

Celtics 11, Cavaliers 4 (8:19, 1Q)

Boston is off to a hot start for the home crowd, with Jayson Tatum leading the way. He has seven points in the first four minutes, on just four shots.

Game 7 shirts

Celtics fans at TD Garden will be wearing this “Game Face” T-shirt for Game 7, which features a haunting image of Mr. Howell from Gilligan’s Island.

Cleveland Cavaliers v Boston Celtics - Game Seven Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

Whatever suits you

The Cavs ditched their matching pregame suits before Game 7, trying to snap a strong of three straight road losses in this series after wearing the suits.

Pregame

We are down to a final, winner-take-all contest to decide the 2018 NBA Eastern Conference Finals, with the Boston Celtics hosting the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 7 on Sunday night at TD Garden (8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN).

So far the home team has won all six games of this series, including Cleveland’s 109-99 win on Friday night to even things up at 3-3. LeBron James was phenomenal, scoring 46 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. He has seven 40-point games this postseason, as many as any other active NBA player has in their careers.

“There’s something different about LeBron, period,” Larry Nance Jr. told the Associated Press on Friday. “I think (coach Tyronn Lue) said it best: ‘We’re going into a Game 7 with the baddest dude on the planet on our team.’ I like our chances.”

James has a stellar record in elimination games throughout his career, and in his career is 5-2 in Games 7 while averaging 34.9 points per game. His teams have won the last five Games 7 in his career. His last Game 7 loss came in 2008, coincidentally also to the Celtics in Boston.

James faces a tough task on Sunday night, with the Celtics 10-0 at home this postseason.

Cleveland’s task is even tougher without Kevin Love, who was placed into the concussion protocol and will miss Game 7. Love averaged 12.5 points and 9.8 rebounds in the series, one of just three Cavaliers to average double digits in scoring in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Sunday night is the second Game 7 for both teams this postseason. Cleveland outlasted the Pacers and Boston beat the Bucks, each in the first round.

The winner on Sunday earns a trip to the NBA Finals, which begins on Thursday, May 31 in either Houston or Golden State.

Celtics vs. Cavaliers Game 7 info

Location: TD Garden, Boston

Game time: 8:30 p.m. ET

TV: ESPN

Announcers: Mike Breen, Jeff Van Gundy, Mark Jackson, Doris Burke

Online streaming: Watch ESPN