Cavaliers cruise past Celtics into National Basketball Association finals

James was in his normal "closeout the series" mode on Friday, scoring 35 points - and passing Michael Jordan as the all-time leading scorer in postseason history in the process - while pulling down eight rebounds and dishing out eight assists.

James entered Game Five of the Eastern Conference Finals against the host Boston Celtics today needing 28 points to surpass Jordan (5987 points).

The 32-year-old paid tribute to Jordan after taking his spot at the top of the rankings, offering a reminder of why he chooses to don the number 23 jersey - also Jordan's preference in his playing days.

After the game, James told reporters that he was honored to pass Jordan, who was his childhood idol. Twitter congratulation posts poured in - including one from Magic Johnson. "I think I fell in love with the game because of Michael, just seeing what he was able to accomplish", James said. When you're watching Michael Jordan it's nearly like a god.

This year, analysts have been hard-pressed to predict what a Cavs-Warriors NBA Finals would like, considering the lack of parity in both conferences - the Cavs were an Avery Bradley 3-pointer away from sweeping the first three rounds of the playoffs like Golden State - and the Warriors' addition of Kevin Durant.

The victory marks the seventh straight trip to the Finals for James.

After the Warriors beat the Cavs for their first title in 40 years in 2015, Cleveland got revenge last season with a comeback from 3-1 down to give the city its first major championship since 1964. "But nobody's going to feel sorry for me".

The Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook installed Golden State as a minus-260 favorite, with Cleveland at plus-220, meaning a $100 bet on the Warriors would win $38.46 and the same bet on the Cavaliers would win $220, according to ESPN.

Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said Kyrie Irving's left ankle was feeling "good" in advance of Game 5.

What makes LeBron among the two best players in the history of the sport is not the man's unparalleled athleticism or his unrivaled desire to win. Kyrie Irving added 24 points and Kevin Love finished with 15.

"Yeah, I didn't even realize that (the video session) had happened until later on", said Celtics coach Brad Stevens. "We still have to keep growing as a group and getting better".

The Cleveland regulars were 16 of 33 from behind the arc through three quarters - after the Cavs went 19 of 39 on treys in a 44-point win in Game 2.

For James, the Finals are an annual rite.

I'm not in the right mind to talk about Golden State.

In August, James called Jordan "this ghost I'm chasing" for greatest-ever status. It's too stressful and I'm not stressed right now. I'm very happy about our accomplishment.

It's incredible to think of how far this team has come in the last seven years.

"But people may want to be careful, because I think right now you're witnessing greatness".

"I don't have to score to make an impact on a game and that was my mindset when I started playing, if I'm not scoring how can I still make an impact on the game?"

  • Julie Sanders