It just wasn’t their time.
The Celtics had a chance to reach the Finals. A real, honest-to-goodness chance that’ll cost them sleep. But the end came how we feared it would — with LeBron James proving too strong, too determined, too overwhelming.
The star of the Cavaliers — the totality of the Cavaliers — completed his and their comeback from a 3-2 series deficit, and from a double-digit deficit in Game 7, to claim an 87-79 victory and berth in the NBA Finals.
James finished with 35 points, 15 rebounds, and nine assists as he reached his eighth straight Finals and fourth straight since returning to Cleveland.
When the final buzzer sounded, James saluted the young Celtics, who are only just getting started. He shared a particularly long embrace with 20-year-old rookie Jayson Tatum, who led the Celtics with 24 points before fouling out.
“The pain is part of the path,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. “We’ve been really fortunate to continuously get better the last couple of years and put ourselves in better positions, but when it ends, it’s painful. But that is part of the path. So we have to let it motivate us.”
The Cavs needed every ounce of James, because the Celtics actually led by a point with 6:04 left when Tatum completed a mini five-point run with a 3-pointer that made it 72-71. But Cleveland followed with a 15-2 run that iced it, with James either scoring or assisting on 10 of the points.
“I thought it was an outstanding defensive game, and he still got 35, 15, and nine,” Stevens marveled. “It’s a joke.”
The Celtics shot woefully, with the trio of Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart, and Terry Rozier combining to shoot 8-for-42, including 3-for-26 on 3-pointers. That was the story from their end.
So now the Celtics look forward to next season, when Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward are expected to rejoin a roster that was good enough to win 10 straight home postseason games and reach Game 7 of the conference finals.
They’ve only just begun.
“I’ll have plenty of time to talk about next year, but we obviously have a good thing going,” Stevens said. “But I don’t want to take away right now from what those guys in that room just did. Kyrie and his play all year put us in a position to have home court. As fun as it’s been for a lot of guys, it’s been heart wrenching for those guys who haven’t been able to be on the court.”
Full article @ Cavaliers 87, Celtics 79: LeBron James simply too much in Game 7 as magical season comes to end
Source: GreenStreet Blog