NBA: James and Cavaliers beat Celtics, set up rematch against Warriors

(REUTERS) - LeBron James and the defending champions Cleveland Cavaliers are headed back to the National Basketball Association (NBA) Finals.

James scored 35 points and added eight rebounds, eight assists and three steals, and Kyrie Irving posted 24 points and seven assists to power the Cavaliers to a 135-102 blowout of the Boston Celtics in Game 5 to clinch the Eastern Conference title.

The Cavaliers, who sat their starters for the entire fourth quarter, begin their third straight NBA Finals series against the Golden State Warriors next Thursday (June 1) in Oakland. Cleveland won the 2016 title after Golden State prevailed in 2015.

James will appear in his seventh consecutive Finals as he seeks his fourth title.

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James, who shot 13 of 18 from the floor and four of seven from three-point range, hit a three-pointer with 2min 41sec left in the third quarter to pass Michael Jordan and become the NBA's all-time leading play-off scorer.

Kevin Love had 15 points and 11 rebounds and Deron Williams added 14 points in 17 minutes off the bench in the win that made Cleveland 12-1 in the post-season.

Avery Bradley led the Celtics with 23 points, and Gerald Green scored 14.

With 2:44 left, the remaining Boston fans began a "Let's Go Celtics" chant that kept going until the final horn, cheering every basket as if the game was close.

The Celtics made some noise near the end of the first half, but Irving scored Cleveland's first 11 points in the first 3:18 of the second half before two baskets by James ballooned the lead to 25 with 6:39 left in the third quarter.

It soon grew to 32 and then to 35 by the end of the quarter.

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