BOSTON (AFP) - Battered but unbowed, the Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the Boston Celtics 101-93 on Sunday to reach the second round of the NBA playoffs.
With 27 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists from hometown superstar LeBron James, the Cavs withstood the early exit of star forward Kevin Love with a shoulder injury to complete a 4-0 sweep of the Celtics in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference first-round series.
Love was hurt in the first quarter battling Celtics seven-footer Kelly Olynyk, who grabbed Love's left arm as they chased a loose ball.
Love grabbed his left shoulder as he ran down the court, past his team's bench toward the locker room.
The incident touched off a string of increasingly physical plays that threatened to overwhelm a game that the Cavs had well in hand.
Cleveland's Kendrick Perkins was whistled for a foul and also picked up a technical foul in the second quarter after shoving Boston's Jae Crowder to the court while setting a pick.
Crowder, who had been guarding James near the sideline, also received a technical foul after he and Perkins jawed at each other.
Cleveland's J.R. Smith was ejected in the third quarter for hitting Crowder across the face as he defended the Celtics forward under the basket.
After a small push from Crowder in his back, Smith connected with his right hand as he wheeled around toward the ball.
Crowder left the game with what the Celtics said was a sprained left knee suffered when he fell on the play.
Kyrie Irving added 24 points and 11 rebounds for Cleveland and Iman Shumpert contributed 15 points and 10 rebounds off the bench.
It was the first playoff series sweep for Cleveland since 2009, when they needed the minimum to get past Detroit and Atlanta back in James's first stint with his home-state club.
They will face either Chicago or Milwaukee in the second round. The third-seeded Bulls missed a chance to sweep the Bucks on Saturday, but will try to finish them off when they take a 3-1 series lead into game five in Chicago on Monday.
The Celtics, who scraped into the playoffs with a late-season run in what was billed as a rebuilding year, were swept for the first time in 11 seasons.
Elsewhere in the East on Sunday, the Washington Wizards tried to complete their first playoff series sweep since 1992.
They took a 3-0 series lead over the Atlantic Division champion Raptors into game four in Washington.
bb/dj Basket-NBA-EastAFP 262226 GMT APR 15