James, Cavs KO Celts, set up rematch vs. Warriors

"It has nothing to do with passing the rings, passing the points, passing MVPs".

It has always been said that big-time players make big-time plays in big-time games, and in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Boston Celtics at Quicken Loans Arena, point guard Kyrie Irving was that player for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The Warriors, who beat Cleveland for the title in 2015, swept the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference finals and host game one of the championship series in Oakland next Thursday.

The Celtics regular season win total of 53 was their best since the 2010-2011 season when they won 56 but lost in the second round of the playoffs that season in five games to none other than James and the Miami Heat.

"I wear the number [23] because of Mike". With 40 more points, James could also become the first player in National Basketball Association history to score 6,000 points in the playoffs.

Irving, who shook off a Game 4 twisted ankle, was 9 of 15 from the floor and 4 of 8 from three-point range.

The Celtics are hoping the experience of being in the East finals this year will help them moving forward.

Cleveland put Boston on the brink of elimination following a 112-99 win over the Celtics in Game 4. "It should be the same for us", James said.

However, James has been a more efficient postseason scorer than Jordan, needing fewer shots (4,379 to 4,497), albeit while hitting a lower percentage (.482-.487) and taking more three-pointers (971-446). He showed no signs of lingering issues, though, beating several defenders off the dribble and handing out seven assists. Meanwhile, Avery Bradley scored 14 points of his own.

Four players scored in double figures for Boston in the defeat on Tuesday night, but the top-seed couldn't hold on to an early 16 point lead.

"We made progress (throughout the series), but not good enough. I was like, 'If I'm not scoring the ball, how can I still make an impact on the game?' It's carried me all the way to this point now, and it's going to carry me for the rest of my career".

The Celtics did their best to keep up, but the consistent outside shooting, bench scoring and defense they relied on to stun Cleveland in Game 3 wasn't there Thursday night.

But the following year, 2011-2012, was the last time the Celtics advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals before now, after a 39-27 record in the lockout-shortened season.

Injured Celtics point guard Isaiah Thomas was in attendance Thursday night and gathered with his teammates in a huddle before they took the court for pregame warmups. The previous franchise record for points in a playoff game is 130, which was set against Boston in Game 2 of this series. "It all comes with the great veteran leadership we have on this team that allows me to do that".

  • Zachary Reyes