Cavs blow out Celts to reach finals

LeBron James 'focused on the present&apos after awful game three

The NBA Finals has its first "three-match", courtesy of a King who passed His Airness.

En route to clinching the Eastern Conference championship in five games on Thursday night, it was notable that LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers achieved three of their required four wins at Boston's TD Garden.

Kyrie Irving (24) and Kevin Love (15) also combined for 39 points, in a game the Cavaliers never looked like losing. The Cavs set an National Basketball Association record by winning their 13th consecutive series closeout opportunity.

That hardly sounds like James, who not too long ago declared his confidence by noting, "I'm the best player in the world". "I think I fell in love with the game because of Mike", said James. Same for Michael Jordan and Karl Malone or Jerry West and Bill Russell. Love did find James with his trademark length-of-the-court pass and James delivered with a one-handed jam to cut Boston's lead to 18-13.

With James in foul trouble, Irving was forced to do more than ever and he delivered, scoring 19 in less than five minutes and 33 in a 19-minute stretch. "That was my mindset". Without Isaiah Thomas for a second straight game, ball movement for the Celtics was outstanding. But he said both he and his teammates continue to be inspired by their leader.

"This team is a insane team".

"They are a really good team, we have a ton of respect for them", Cavs guard Kyle Korver said.

The stuff they're running, it's harder to defend than Golden State's for me, as far as the actions and all the running around and all the guys who are making all the plays, so it's a totally different thing... "As of tonight, I'll get started".

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"They care about my health, not just being a basketball player", Thomas said. "It was one of those games where we had to fight through it".

Then the Celtics took over, scoring 11 straight points and to take all the energy out of QuickenLoans Arena.

Irving was moving around and putting up shots during the Cavs' morning shootaround. He showed no signs of lingering issues, though, beating several defenders off the dribble and handing out seven assists. Cleveland, during the regular season scored 110.3 points per game, and allowed 107.2 per game.

Irving's signature game of the postseason came in Game 4 against the Celtics when he scored a playoff career-high 42 points, including 21 in the third quarter.

Ainge said Thomas battled the injury for much of the second half of the season, but powered through it to help Boston earn the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference and a trip to the East finals.

These teams that have spent much of the post-merger days near the bottom of the standings were the cream of the crop in the 1950s led by star quarterback Graham and innovative coach Paul Brown in Cleveland and Lions Hall of Fame passer Layne and running back Doak Walker. The Celtics led 57-47 at the break.

Horford, who averaged a lackluster 12.4 points and 4.2 rebounds in the series, figures to definitely be in the long-term plans. The Celtics observed a moment of silence for the victims of Monday's bombing in Manchester, England. Cleveland swept the Indiana Pacers, Toronto Raptors, and then beat the Boston Celtics in 5 games.

As the Raptors and the Celtics will tell you, the latter somehow doesn't seem so foolhardly in a league in which the best player on the floor so often commands a game's course.



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