NBA: James the maestro as Jordan displaced

LeBron James, who scored 35 points in the Cavaliers' 135-102 defeat of the Boston Celtics in Game Five on Thursday, said his successful pursuit of Michael Jordan's record tally of play-off points was nothing more than a personal goal to keep himself
LeBron James, who scored 35 points in the Cavaliers' 135-102 defeat of the Boston Celtics in Game Five on Thursday, said his successful pursuit of Michael Jordan's record tally of play-off points was nothing more than a personal goal to keep himself motivated.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Legend's play-off tally eclipsed as Cavaliers rout Celtics to face Warriors in Finals again

BOSTON • The Cleveland Cavaliers were supposed to get there, and they did.

They were supposed to play the Golden State Warriors there, and they will, deciding the NBA league title for a third consecutive year.

LeBron James and the defending champion Cavaliers are headed back to the Finals.

"We all need to soak this up. This is a great moment, and this is not promised," James said after scoring 35 points to become the NBA's all-time leading play-off scorer in a 135-102 blowout of the Boston Celtics in Game Five on Thursday to clinch the Eastern Conference title.

James, who was joined on the podium by team-mates, pointed out that it was a special moment for Deron Williams and Kyle Korver, two veterans heading to the Finals for the first time in their careers.

James, who also had eight rebounds, eight assists, three steals and a blocked shot, then talked about "the beast of an opponent" that is waiting.

  • 5,995

  • Record NBA play-off points by LeBron James as he leapfrogs Michael Jordan (5,987).

Kyrie Irving had 24 points and seven assists for the Cavaliers, who sat their starters for the entire fourth quarter.

When James takes the court on Thursday in Oakland, California, he will be appearing in his seventh straight Finals while seeking his fourth title.

The Warriors, who beat the Cavs for the 2015 championship before losing the rematch last year, are 12-0 in this year's play-offs.

"They've been playing great, but you can't get too far ahead of yourself," Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue said of the Warriors. "You saw that in Game Three against Boston. To be honest, I didn't do one (bit of) prep for Golden State yet, because I really believe that this (Boston) team is a good team."

James, who shot 13 of 18 from the floor and four of seven from three-point range, hit a three-pointer with 2:41 left in the third quarter to pass Michael Jordan and move to the top of all playoff scorers.

James finished the night with 5,995 play-off points, topping Jordan's mark of 5,987. Jordan appeared in 179 post-season games; James was playing his 212th.

Before the game, James said: "It's just a personal goal of mine. It has nothing to do with passing the rings, passing the points, passing MVPs. It's just my personal goal to keep me motivated - that's all."

For the third time in as many TD Garden games in the series, the Cavaliers never trailed. They won the three road games in the series by a combined 90 points, the last two by a total of 77.

Kevin Love had 15 points and 11 rebounds and was a game-high plus-43, and 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.

"We're definitely disappointed. I felt like if we weren't, it would be a problem," Bradley said. "We feel like we should be here, and we feel like we should be a championship-contending team."

Celtics coach Brad Stevens, who earned his first two play-off series wins this year, said: "I leave with a little bit of a bad taste in my mouth not playing as well here, and man you want to play well here."

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 27, 2017, with the headline 'James the maestro as Jordan displaced'. Print Edition | Subscribe