LeBron James did his royal best to break out of the routine Sunday, but Game 7 stuck to script as the Celtics used their homecourt advantage to move past the Cavaliers, 97-92, and into the Eastern Conference Finals.
Paul Pierce carried the offensive load for the Celts, scoring 26 first-half points as Boston took a 10-point lead, 50-40, into intermission. Pierce finished with 41 points. Kevin Garnett doubled up with 13 points and 13 boards, helping the C's to a 39-28 rebounding edge.
The Celtics' defense came out full force in Game 7, clamping down on every route to a Cavaliers bucket except the one LeBron was on. Facing elimination, James was nearly unstoppable, scoring a game-high 45 points. Cleveland rallied to within one point midway through the fourth quarter, and the hot-handed James kept the outcome far from certain until the final seconds. Delonte West, who finished with 15 points, was the only other Cavalier in double figures.
Having secured their second Game 7 win of the postseason, the Celtics move on to the conference finals, where the Detroit Pistons await.
Game 1 tips off Tuesday at 8:30 p.m. ET in Boston on ABC.