The Cavaliers travel to Beantown this Sunday night for a winner-take-all Game 7 matchup against the Boston Celtics for a chance to clinch the Eastern Conference Championship as well as a fourth-straight trip to the NBA Finals. Tipoff from TD Garden is set for 8:30 p.m (ET).
The Wine & Gold enter the upcoming winner-take-all contest against the Celtics for the second time this postseason after going the distance with the Indiana Pacers in Round 1. Sunday’s Game 7 will also be the Cavs’ first in a conference finals matchup in franchise history.
The Wine & Gold are 4-2 all-time in Game 7s. Not including their Round 1 matchup with the Pacers, the other Game 7s in Cavaliers history: 1976 Semifinals vs. Washington (4-3), 1992 Semifinals vs. Boston (4-3), 2006 Semifinals at Detroit (3-4), 2008 Semifinals at Boston (3-4) and 2016 NBA Finals at Golden State (4-3).
As mentioned, with a win in Game 7, the Cavaliers can clinch their fourth-straight appearance in the NBA Finals as well as their fifth overall. The only franchises to make four-straight NBA Finals are the Boston Celtics (1957-1966, 1984-1987), the Los Angeles Lakers (1982-1985) and the Miami Heat (2011-2014).
Going back to 2009, Cleveland is 15-1 in potential series-clinching playoff games (2-1 this postseason), while also winning six of their last eight games when facing elimination since 2015.
The Cavaliers earned this exciting challence by defeating the Celtics, 109-99, in Game 6 on Friday night at The Q to even the series at 3-3. In the win, Cleveland pulled down a 2018 Playoff-high 15 offensive rebounds, which led to a 18-7 edge in second chance points.
Cleveland secured the victory after 48 minutes of non-stop defensive excellence. In fact, the club posted nine blocks in Game 6, their most this postseason. Over the last three games, the Cavs are averaging 8.0 blocks per contest, making them a fierce obstacle for the Celtics’ offense.
From an individual perspective, Game 6 was won on the shoulders of LeBron James, who notched his NBA-leading 12th double-double of the 2018 Playoffs with game highs of 46 points (17-33 FG, 5-7 3FG), 11 rebounds, nine assists and three steals in 46 minutes. It also marked James’ seventh 40-point outing this playoffs, tying Michael Jordan (1989) for the second-most 40-point games in a single postseason.
This incredible effort shouldn’t come as a surprise to Wine & Gold Nation, as LBJ has already proven he can come in clutch when his back is against the wall. In 22 contests when facing elimination (13-9 record), James is now averaging 34.1 points (highest in league history, minimum five games), 10.8 rebounds and 7.4 assists, including at least 40 points in each of the last three elimination games.
The Kid from Akron will look to mirror his Game 6 performance on Sunday in Game 7. After all, history shows us once again that James can do wonders in winner-take-all contests. Over his seven career Game 7s, LBJ has averaged 34.9 points, 9.1 rebounds, 5.1 assists and 2.0 steals in 45.3 minutes. His teams are 5-2 in Game 7s, winning each of the last five (2018 First Round vs. IND, 2016 Finals at GSW, 2013 Finals vs. SAS, 2013 ECF vs. IND, 2012 ECF vs. BOS).
For Boston, a team that is undefeated at home this postseason, they’ll look to get their hometown crowd behind them early as they aim to earn their first trip to the Finals since 2010 when they lost in seven games to the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Celtics will look to their back court of Terry Rozier and Jaylen Brown (the guard combo combined for 55 in Game 6) to give them a spark early on Sunday, but like the Cavaliers, they’ll also need a well-rounded effort if they want to play into June. That means getting starting center Aron Baynes going underneath the basket. The Australian center blanked in Game 6 despite solid efforts earlier in the series.
Boston will also look to their reserves to carry some of the load. While both Marcus Smart (10 pts) and Marcus Morris (10 pts) played well off the bench in Game 6, the rest of the reserves combined for only three points. Bench play for both teams could be the determining factor as to who will play in the Finals come Sunday night.
Where to Catch the Action
FOX Sports Ohio: Before and after all Cavs playoffs games, FOX Sports Ohio will provide pre- and postgame coverage hosted by Jeff Phelps and Campy Russell that will include reporting and analysis from Fred McLeod, Austin Carr and Allie Clifton, with guest appearances from former Cavs coach Mike Fratello.
Radio: WTAM 1100, 100.7 WMMS, 87.7 La Mega
For Wine & Gold fans, the all-important Game 7 can’t come soon enough. However, here are some interesting milestones that will take your mind off of the grueling wait.
From a league perspective, Kyle Korver (235 3FGM) is just two three-pointers away from passing Jason Kidd (236 3FGM) for the 14th-most in NBA postseason play.
JR Smith (276 3FGM), on the other hand, is only one triple shy of moving past Paul Pierce (276 3FGM) for sole possession of ninth place on that same list.
From a franchise perspective, Kevin Love (109 AST) needs only two more assists to pass Larry Nance (110 AST) for eighth-most in Cavaliers playoff history.
Swish (759 PTS) can also pass another milestone, this time on the all-time playoff scoring list as he is just 24 points shy from passing Brad Daugherty (782 PTS) for sixth place on that list.
With Game 7 being the final cap on the 2018 Eastern Conference Finals, the winner of #CavsCeltics will go on to play either the Golden State Warriors or the Houston Rockets in the 2018 NBA Finals. Game 1 of The Finals will tipoff on Thursday, May 31 at 9:00 p.m. (ET) and will be televised on ABC. Both Games 1 & 2 will be hosted by the winner of the Western Conference Finals no matter the outcome of either series.