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Boston bound: LeBron pushes Cavs to Game 7 vs. Celtics

CLEVELAND (AP) LeBron James chose Boston as the place he'll play next.

Game 7 is on. And any talk about James' future is on hold.

Delivering another performance for the ages, James scored 46 points and preserved his reign atop the Eastern Conference for at least one more game as the Cleveland Cavaliers shook off losing All-Star Kevin Love with a head injury and beat the Celtics 109-99 on Friday night to force a decisive climax to this back-and-forth series.

James, playing in perhaps his final game for the Cavs in Cleveland, added 11 rebounds and nine assists while playing all but two minutes - to avoid elimination and delay any decisions about where he'll continue his remarkable career next season.

''Greatness,'' Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said. ''Championship pedigree. Giving it his all. We needed that, especially when Kevin went down. We had to play `Bron as many minutes as he had to. He delivered. He was up for the challenge. He carried us home as usual.''

The king is not dead, and he still has a chance to make his eighth straight NBA Finals.

This series, in which home court has meant everything, will have a fitting conclusion Sunday at TD Garden, where the Celtics are 10-0 this postseason.

''It's a Game 7,'' James said. ''It's something that you wish you had when you're done playing, but more than that, it's just basketball for me. I know what I'm capable of doing, and I'm going to trust everything I put into it.''

George Hill added 20 points, and Jeff Green 14 for the Cavs, who lost Love in the first quarter after he banged heads with Boston rookie Jayson Tatum.

Terry Rozier paced the Celtics - now 1-6 on the road - with 28 points, and Jaylen Brown had 27.

The Celtics were still within seven in the final three minutes before James made consecutive 3-pointers, punctuating the second by pounding his chest with both fists and screaming along with 20,562 others.

''The love of the game,'' James said, explaining his reaction. ''It's a feeling you can't explain.''

Just for good measure, he added a three-point play and then was taken out of the game to a rousing ovation and chants of ''Cavs in 7!''

Boston's improbable run through the postseason without injured stars Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward will now take the Celtics back home, where they play with more intensity, togetherness and before fans hungry to see an 18th title banner raised to their arena's rafters.

''It's not going to be pretty,'' Celtics guard Marcus Smart said. ''We've got to come out ready to get our nose bloody and our mouth bloody. We've got to come out ready to fight. You've got to find a way, whatever it takes.''

Love went out with a head injury in the first quarter, forcing Lue to juggle his rotations and keep James on the floor longer than he wanted to. The three-time champion played the first 35 minutes without a break and then endured the final eight while nursing a right leg.

James didn't know until after the game that teammate Larry Nance Jr. had banged into him.

''I felt some pain throughout my entire right side of my ankle into my leg,'' he said. ''I was just hoping for the best, obviously, because I've seen so many different injuries, and watching basketball with that type of injury, someone fall into one's leg standing straight up. Luckily, I was able to finish the game.''

Hill, who came over in a deadline trade, has been awed by what James has done in this postseason.

''I've been in the league for some years and ran across him on the other side and really hated his guts,'' said Hill, who was on Indiana teams eliminated by James. ''But to have him on our side, it kind of lets me take a deep breath of fresh air. It's just something that you really can't explain what he's doing night in, night out. It's just something special.''

''I thought the best was when he always put us out. But to actually see it when he's on your team, I can't even put it into words.''

The real possibility that James was playing his last game in Cleveland hung over the game - and this city - in the hours leading to tip-off. Everyone had an opinion on what James will do next and that discussion filled the sports talk radio airwaves, bars and barber shops.

The 33-year-old has said several times since coming home in 2014 that he wants to retire with the Cavaliers, but fans are uneasy because he can opt out of his $35.6 million contract this summer and test free agency.

And, of course, he left in 2010.

James has said he'll sit down after the season ends to decide next move, and he's already being courted in Philadelphia, Los Angeles and New York where fans can only dream of him joining their rosters.

For now, he's only going to Boston.

NO LOVE

The game began ominously for the Cavs as Love was forced to leave following his violent collision with Tatum.

Love and Tatum were away from the ball and didn't see each other until it was too late. They banged heads and both immediately dropped to the floor with Love raising his left arm as if to signal he needed help.

As Love stayed down, the Cavs huddled around him. He was helped off and walked to the bench unsteadily before heading to the locker room for further treatment and evaluation.

His status for Game 7 is uncertain.

THE OTHER SIDE

Tatum stayed in following his nasty collision with Love. The rookie passed the concussion testing that he was given on the bench.

''I didn't see him coming, it was bad,'' Tatum said. ''I have a knot on the back of my head and he didn't return. I wish the best for Kevin Love because he's a great player and it's been a long season.''

PREGAME MEAL

Hill said he's played well after eating has tacos with barbacoa and guacamole before games.

''I'm for sure going to find a Chipotle in Boston, I'll tell you that,'' he said.

TIP-INS

Celtics: Own a 37-0 record when leading a series 2-0. ... Dropped to 1-4 in Game 6s over the last four postseasons. ... Coach Brad Stevens praised James for his consistency, and ability to exceed expectations. ''Nobody else has what he has on his shoulders playing the game,'' he said. ''I think that the way in which he's done that and all of the years now that he's made The Finals and gone deep into the playoffs, it's unbelievable.''

Cavaliers: Improved to 6-2 in elimination game since 2015. James has scored at least 40 in five of those wins. ... James' teams are 5-2 in Game 7s. ... This was the seventh 40-point game for James this postseason. Michael Jordan also had seven, one off Jerry West's record set in 1965. ... James passed Karl Malone (2,062) for sixth place on the career postseason rebounds list.

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1st Quarter

Time Team Play Score
12:00   Jumpball  
11:36 +2 Terry Rozier made driving layup 2-0
11:11 +2 LeBron James made floating jump shot, assist by George Hill 2-2
10:49 +3 Jaylen Brown made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by Terry Rozier 5-2
10:32   Kevin Love missed 3-pt. jump shot  
10:30   Defensive rebound by Terry Rozier  
10:09   Jaylen Brown missed driving layup  
10:07   Defensive rebound by Kevin Love  
9:58 +2 George Hill made jump shot 5-4
9:39   Personal foul on Kevin Love  
9:39   Team rebound  
9:39   Jaylen Brown missed 1st of 2 free throws  
9:39 +1 Jaylen Brown made 2nd of 2 free throws 6-4
9:23   LeBron James missed jump shot  
9:21   Defensive rebound by Al Horford  
9:15   Bad pass turnover on Al Horford, stolen by LeBron James  
9:07   George Hill missed floating jump shot  
9:07   Offensive rebound by Kevin Love  
9:07   Kevin Love missed dunk  
9:06   Offensive rebound by Kevin Love  
9:06   Kevin Love missed dunk  
9:06   Offensive rebound by George Hill  
9:06   Out of bounds turnover on George Hill  
8:51   Jaylen Brown missed jump shot  
8:50   Defensive rebound by Tristan Thompson  
8:35 +2 George Hill made hook shot 6-6
8:16   Terry Rozier missed 3-pt. jump shot  
8:14   Defensive rebound by Kevin Love  
8:07   J.R. Smith missed jump shot  
8:04   Defensive rebound by Jayson Tatum  
7:55 +2 Jaylen Brown made floating jump shot, assist by Al Horford 8-6
7:55   Shooting foul on J.R. Smith  
7:55   Jaylen Brown missed free throw  
7:53   Defensive rebound by J.R. Smith  
7:36   Tristan Thompson missed hook shot  
7:34   Defensive rebound by Jayson Tatum  
7:26   Jayson Tatum missed 3-pt. jump shot  
7:22   Team rebound  
7:16 +2 Jayson Tatum made driving layup, assist by Aron Baynes 10-6
7:16 +2 Jayson Tatum made driving layup, assist by Aron Baynes 12-6
7:01   George Hill missed 3-pt. jump shot  
6:59   Defensive rebound by Terry Rozier  
6:58   Personal foul on George Hill  
6:43   Offensive foul on Al Horford  
6:43   Offensive foul on Al Horford  
6:28   LeBron James missed floating jump shot  
6:25   Defensive rebound by Al Horford  
6:13 +2 Marcus Morris made jump shot, assist by Al Horford 14-6
5:50   Jeff Green missed jump shot  
5:49   Team rebound  
5:46 +3 J.R. Smith made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by LeBron James 14-9
5:46 +3 J.R. Smith made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by LeBron James 14-12
5:20   Marcus Morris missed layup, blocked by Tristan Thompson  
5:19   Offensive rebound by Marcus Morris  
5:19   24-second shot clock violation turnover  
5:04   LeBron James missed layup  
5:02   Defensive rebound by Aron Baynes  
4:57 +2 Terry Rozier made floating jump shot 16-12
4:44   George Hill missed jump shot  
4:42   Defensive rebound by Marcus Morris  
4:33   Al Horford missed 3-pt. jump shot  
4:30   Defensive rebound by LeBron James  
4:24 +2 LeBron James made layup 16-14
3:59   Al Horford missed turnaround jump shot  
3:57   Defensive rebound by Tristan Thompson  
3:44 +2 George Hill made driving layup 16-16
3:23   Bad pass turnover on Marcus Smart, stolen by George Hill  
3:15   Jeff Green missed floating jump shot, blocked by Al Horford  
3:12   Defensive rebound by Al Horford  
2:55 +2 Marcus Smart made turnaround jump shot 18-16
2:25   LeBron James missed driving layup  
2:22   Offensive rebound by LeBron James  
2:22 +2 LeBron James made dunk 18-18
2:07 +3 Jaylen Brown made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by Marcus Smart 21-18
1:52 +3 Kyle Korver made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by LeBron James 21-21
1:28 +2 Jaylen Brown made layup, assist by Al Horford 23-21
1:06   Personal foul on Jayson Tatum  
0:54 +2 LeBron James made finger-roll layup 23-23
0:45 +2 Jaylen Brown made driving layup, assist by Marcus Smart 25-23
0:27   Kyle Korver missed jump shot  
0:25   Defensive rebound by Aron Baynes  
0:08 +2 Jaylen Brown made jump shot 27-23
0:00   J.R. Smith missed 3-pt. jump shot  
0:00   Team rebound  

2nd Quarter

Time Team Play Score
11:43 +2 Jeff Green made alley-oop shot, assist by LeBron James 27-25
11:28   Jaylen Brown missed 3-pt. jump shot  
11:25   Defensive rebound by Jordan Clarkson  
11:17   Jordan Clarkson missed jump shot  
11:15   Defensive rebound by Jaylen Brown  
11:02 +2 Marcus Smart made jump shot 29-25
10:39   Jeff Green missed turnaround jump shot  
10:38   Team rebound  
10:28   Jordan Clarkson missed floating jump shot  
10:29   Offensive rebound by Larry Nance Jr.  
10:29 +2 Larry Nance Jr. made dunk 29-27
10:12 +3 Marcus Smart made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by Aron Baynes 32-27
10:03 +2 Jeff Green made dunk, assist by LeBron James 32-29
10:03   Shooting foul on Aron Baynes  
10:03 +1 Jeff Green made free throw 32-30
9:49   Marcus Smart missed 3-pt. jump shot  
9:45   Defensive rebound by Kyle Korver  
9:39   Kyle Korver missed 3-pt. jump shot  
9:37   Defensive rebound by Aron Baynes  
9:28   Marcus Morris missed 3-pt. jump shot  
9:24   Defensive rebound by Larry Nance Jr.  
9:14   Personal foul on Marcus Morris  
9:14 +1 LeBron James made 1st of 2 free throws 32-31
9:14 +1 LeBron James made 2nd of 2 free throws 32-32
9:01 +3 Terry Rozier made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by Marcus Smart 35-32
8:44 +2 Jordan Clarkson made turnaround jump shot 35-34
8:25   Offensive foul on Aron Baynes  
8:25   Jumpball  
8:06 +3 LeBron James made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by Jeff Green 35-37
7:58   Offensive foul on Marcus Morris  
7:58   Offensive foul on Marcus Morris  
7:38   LeBron James missed floating jump shot  
7:41   Offensive rebound by Jordan Clarkson  
7:41   Jordan Clarkson missed dunk  
7:40   Defensive rebound by Aron Baynes  
7:30   Marcus Smart missed 3-pt. jump shot  
7:24   Offensive rebound by Al Horford  
7:23   Al Horford missed floating jump shot, blocked by Kyle Korver  
7:21   Defensive rebound by Jordan Clarkson  
7:21   Shooting foul on Marcus Smart  
7:21 +1 Jeff Green made 1st of 2 free throws 35-38
7:21 +1 Jeff Green made 2nd of 2 free throws 35-39
7:05   Aron Baynes missed 3-pt. jump shot  
7:01   Defensive rebound by Larry Nance Jr.  
6:53 +2 Larry Nance Jr. made jump shot, assist by LeBron James 35-41
6:34   Jaylen Brown missed driving layup, blocked by Jeff Green  
6:31   Defensive rebound by Jeff Green  
6:29   Shooting foul on Al Horford  
6:29   Full timeout called  
6:29 +1 LeBron James made 1st of 2 free throws 35-42
6:29 +1 LeBron James made 2nd of 2 free throws 35-43
6:11   Out of bounds turnover on Marcus Smart  
5:55   Kyle Korver missed jump shot  
5:54   Defensive rebound by Jayson Tatum  
5:37   Shooting foul on Jordan Clarkson  
5:37   Marcus Smart missed 1st of 2 free throws  
5:37   Team rebound  
5:37 +1 Marcus Smart made 2nd of 2 free throws 36-43
5:18 +2 LeBron James made jump shot 36-45
5:05   Bad pass turnover on Marcus Morris, stolen by Larry Nance Jr.  
4:59 +2 Jordan Clarkson made finger-roll layup, assist by Larry Nance Jr. 36-47
4:36   Marcus Morris missed reverse layup  
4:33   Defensive rebound by LeBron James  
4:22   Lost ball turnover on Jeff Green, stolen by Terry Rozier  
4:17   Marcus Morris missed floating jump shot  
4:08   Defensive rebound by Kyle Korver  
4:07   Lost ball turnover on LeBron James, stolen by Terry Rozier  
4:06 +3 Terry Rozier made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by Jayson Tatum 39-47
3:40 +2 Jeff Green made hook shot 39-49
3:23   Shooting foul on Kyle Korver  
3:23   Team rebound  
3:23   Marcus Morris missed 1st of 2 free throws  
3:23 +1 Marcus Morris made 2nd of 2 free throws 40-49
3:02   LeBron James missed jump shot  
2:58   Offensive rebound by Tristan Thompson  
2:54 +3 LeBron James made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by Tristan Thompson 40-52
2:34   Marcus Morris missed layup, blocked by Kyle Korver  
2:34   Team rebound  
2:28   Al Horford missed 3-pt. jump shot  
2:26   Defensive rebound by LeBron James  
2:05   LeBron James missed turnaround jump shot  
2:06   Offensive rebound by George Hill  
2:06   24-second shot clock violation turnover  
1:54   Jayson Tatum missed 3-pt. jump shot  
1:52   Defensive rebound by LeBron James  
1:39   Personal foul on Jayson Tatum  
1:39   Team rebound  
1:39   LeBron James missed 1st of 2 free throws  
1:39   LeBron James missed 2nd of 2 free throws  
1:38   Team rebound  
1:27   Terry Rozier missed 3-pt. jump shot  
1:19   Defensive rebound by Jeff Green  
1:15 +3 LeBron James made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by George Hill 40-55
0:59 +2 Jaylen Brown made jump shot, assist by Terry Rozier 42-55
0:51   LeBron James missed 3-pt. jump shot  
0:51   Team rebound  
0:51   Personal foul on Tristan Thompson  
0:43   Jayson Tatum missed driving layup, blocked by J.R. Smith  
0:41   Team rebound  
0:21 +2 LeBron James made running Jump Shot 42-57
0:02 +3 Terry Rozier made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by Marcus Smart 45-57
0:00   Jeff Green missed 3-pt. turnaround jump shot  
0:00   Team rebound  

3rd Quarter

Time Team Play Score
11:44   Shooting foul on Aron Baynes  
11:44 +1 George Hill made 1st of 2 free throws 45-58
11:44 +1 George Hill made 2nd of 2 free throws 45-59
11:29   Bad pass turnover on Jayson Tatum, stolen by George Hill  
11:26 +2 George Hill made finger-roll layup 45-61
11:12 +2 Al Horford made jump shot, assist by Jaylen Brown 47-61
10:54   Shooting foul on Jaylen Brown  
10:54 +1 LeBron James made 1st of 2 free throws 47-62
10:54   LeBron James missed 2nd of 2 free throws  
10:52   Defensive rebound by Al Horford  
10:39 +2 Terry Rozier made jump shot 49-62
10:19   Jeff Green missed 3-pt. jump shot  
10:17   Defensive rebound by Al Horford  
10:17   Personal foul on LeBron James  
10:05   Terry Rozier missed 3-pt. jump shot  
10:05   Team rebound  
9:52   Shooting foul on Jaylen Brown  
9:52 +1 George Hill made 1st of 2 free throws 49-63
9:52 +1 George Hill made 2nd of 2 free throws 49-64
9:37   Personal foul on J.R. Smith  
9:28   Jaylen Brown missed 3-pt. jump shot  
9:24   Defensive rebound by Tristan Thompson  
9:24   Shooting foul on Terry Rozier  
9:24 +1 Jeff Green made 1st of 2 free throws 49-65
9:24 +1 Jeff Green made 2nd of 2 free throws 49-66
9:12   Personal foul on J.R. Smith  
9:04   Traveling violation turnover on Jayson Tatum  
8:55   Offensive foul on Tristan Thompson  
8:55   Offensive foul on Tristan Thompson  
8:42 +2 Jayson Tatum made driving layup, assist by Terry Rozier 51-66
8:26   George Hill missed 3-pt. jump shot  
8:24   Defensive rebound by Al Horford  
8:02   Marcus Smart missed 3-pt. jump shot, blocked by George Hill  
7:58   Defensive rebound by George Hill  
7:57 +2 LeBron James made layup, assist by George Hill 51-68
7:53   Terry Rozier missed driving layup, blocked by LeBron James  
7:53   Team rebound  
7:46   Jayson Tatum missed driving layup, blocked by Tristan Thompson  
7:43   Defensive rebound by LeBron James  
7:39   J.R. Smith missed 3-pt. jump shot  
7:37   Defensive rebound by Al Horford  
7:23   Terry Rozier missed driving dunk, blocked by Jeff Green  
7:18   Offensive rebound by Marcus Smart  
7:18 +3 Jayson Tatum made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by Marcus Smart 54-68
6:53 +2 LeBron James made jump shot 54-70
6:37   Personal foul on Jeff Green  
6:25   Shooting foul on Jeff Green  
6:25   Team rebound  
6:25   Marcus Morris missed 1st of 2 free throws  
6:25 +1 Marcus Morris made 2nd of 2 free throws 55-70
6:11 +2 Tristan Thompson made dunk, assist by LeBron James 55-72
5:51 +2 Terry Rozier made driving layup, assist by Marcus Smart 57-72
5:39   Personal foul on Terry Rozier  
5:39 +1 George Hill made 1st of 2 free throws 57-73
5:39 +1 George Hill made 2nd of 2 free throws 57-74
5:25 +3 Marcus Morris made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by Terry Rozier 60-74
5:04 +2 George Hill made jump shot 60-76
4:44 +3 Terry Rozier made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by Jayson Tatum 63-76
4:21 +2 George Hill made finger-roll layup 63-78
4:05   Marcus Morris missed jump shot  
4:02   Defensive rebound by J.R. Smith  
3:56 +2 LeBron James made jump shot 63-80
3:32   Marcus Morris missed hook shot  
3:30   Defensive rebound by LeBron James  
3:23   LeBron James missed jump shot  
3:20   Defensive rebound by Terry Rozier  
3:16 +2 Jayson Tatum made alley-oop shot, assist by Terry Rozier 65-80
2:50   Jeff Green missed turnaround jump shot  
2:48   Defensive rebound by Marcus Smart  
2:37 +2 Jayson Tatum made turnaround jump shot 67-80
2:12 +3 Jeff Green made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by LeBron James 67-83
1:56   Bad pass turnover on Greg Monroe, stolen by LeBron James  
1:33   Bad pass turnover on LeBron James, stolen by Greg Monroe  
1:28 +2 Jaylen Brown made layup 69-83
1:02   LeBron James missed jump shot  
1:00