The Boston Celtics ended the season for the No.1 seed Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday night by virtue of their 94-85 win in Game 6 at the Boston Garden. NBA MVP LeBron James will now watch the rest of the playoffs from the comfort of his own home in Cleveland, for now.
Behind a 22-point effort and 12 rebounds from Kevin Garnett, and 21 points and 12 assists from Rajon Rondo, the Celtics prevented the series from moving back to Cleveland for a deciding Game 7.
The Celtics now move on to the Eastern Conference finals where they will be the Orlando Magic, who have swept both of their post-season series to date.
“Winning is gratifying,” Garnett said in a post-game interview. “You’re playing the best team in basketball; the challenge is there; you don’t have to dress it up. One thing we don’t lack is confidence. We’re a veteran team and we understand when it’s time to lock in as a group. I think we did just that. I think the experience is taking over.”
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On the other side of the court, James did about all he could, tabbing a triple-double, with 27 points, 19 rebounds and 10 assists. It was not enough to take down Boston however, and for the second straight year, the Cavaliers win at least 60 games during the regular season and fail to make it to the NBA Finals. That makes them the only team in history to achieve that feat.
“The fact that it’s over right now is definitely a surprise to me,” James said after the game in a press conference. “A friend of mine told me, ‘I guess you’ve got to go through a lot of nightmares before you realize your dream.’ That’s what’s going on for me individually right now.”
Now, the question remains where James will end up playing next season, as he can opt for free agency.
“I want to win. That’s my only thing, my only concern,” James said in a post-game interview. “I’ve always prided myself — it’s all about winning for me and I think the Cavs are committed to doing that. But at the same time, I’ve given myself options to this point. Me and my team, we have a game plan that we’ll execute and we’ll see where we’re at.”
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James had a better shooting night than he did in Game 5, but the 8 of 21 performance from the floor was not enough to get the job done, despite the triple-double.
“I just told him, ‘Keep your head up, man. I’ve been there,’” remarked Garnett after the game on what he said to James. “‘You have a very, very, very bright future. Continue to work and make decisions based on you and your family.”
Paule Pierce and Rasheed Wallace both came up big for the Celtics in the second half. Pierce tabbed 13 points total with 11 coming in the final two quarters. Wallace was called out by head coach Doc Rivers several weeks ago, and hit a huge 3-pointer in the final two minutes to catapult the Celtics above the Cavaliers.
Cleveland was able to make a run and cut the lead to 78-74 in the beginning of the fourth quarter, but Boston was able to fend off the charge.
“You knew it was coming at some point with LeBron,” said Rivers. “That’s what that timeout was about: to remind them that we can’t do that, what LeBron was doing.
With the Magic awaiting, the Celtics possess 5/1 odds on Online Sportsbooks to win the 2010 NBA Championship..