BOSTON — It has been six years since LeBron James walked onto the TD Garden parquet and willed the Miami Heat to a elimination-avoiding victory over the Boston Celtics.
After scoring 46 points in another elimination-game special for the Cavaliers in Cleveland on Friday night Authentic Sam Darnold Jersey , James returns to the scene of his 2012 magic and tries to do it again in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals Sunday night.
“We have one game to be able to compete for a championship, what more can you ask for?” James said Friday night after his seventh 40-point game in 17 outings in this postseason.
This will not be an easy task for James and his buddies, who will try to hand the Celtics their only loss in 11 postseason home games. The task also got tougher Saturday when it was announced that Kevin Love, who left Game 6 after banging heads with Boston’s Jayson Tatum, is in the league’s concussion protocol and is out for Game 7.
Just like their opening-round series against the Milwaukee Bucks, the Celtics have won three at home and lost three on the road in this series. They have one road win in the playoffs but are 10-0 at home, where their crowd and perhaps even the banners that hang high above the parquet have helped.
The Celtics have never lost a series they’ve led 2-0 — making it 36 and 37 straight with this year’s first two rounds.
“It’s about just winning the game now,” said Boston’s Marcus Smart, who has done his share of mixing it up with James in this series. “It’s not going to be pretty. You got to be able to get down and get dirty. You can’t go out and try to look pretty. You have to be ready for a dogfight.
“We got to be ready to come up with our nose bloodied, we got to be ready to come out with our mouth bloodied Chukwuma Okorafor Color Rush Jersey , we have to come out ready to fight.”
James, seeking his eighth straight trip to the Finals, comes in averaging 34.9 in Game 7s — including his 45 to help eliminate the Indiana Pacers in this year’s first round. In his career, he has averaged 34 per game in going 13-9 in elimination games. In Game 6 of the 2012 Eastern final, he went for 45 points, 15 rebounds and five assists to keep the Miami Heat alive before they won Game 7 back home.
“Best player in the game,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said after Friday’s game. “Special night tonight and special night in Game 4 … I can’t say enough good things about him.”
Added Terry Rozier, who has often found himself outmanned in a switching situation that left him on James: “We know LeBron is different than a lot of other guys, but we’ve got to get the job done.”
In this series, James has averaged 39 points per game at home Cordy Glenn Color Rush Jersey , 27.7 per in the three games in Boston.
Before Friday night’s game, Cleveland coach Ty Lue told his team (and others), “Three, three, three,” meaning their season had either three hours, three days or three weeks remaining. They were able to take care of the first part — and did it basically without Love, with former Celtics player Jeff Green filling in and having a strong game.
Love is averaging 13.9 points and 10.0 rebounds this postseason.
Tatum was checked out by doctors Saturday and Stevens said there was “nothing there to be concerned about” with his star rookie.
“As we talked about all year, tomorrow night is not going to be perfect. … You just have to have perfect intentions,” Stevens said Saturday.
Said James Uchenna Nwosu Color Rush Jersey , who could be playing his final game in his second stint with the Cavaliers: “Just go out and trust what you’ve built on all year. I don’t put too much added pressure on myself. I just go out and play my game. It’s a Game 7. It’s something 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.”
LAS VEGAS — The Los Angeles Kings‘ chances of at least earning a split of their first two Western Conference first-round playoff road games with the Vegas Golden Knights got a whole lot more difficult late Thursday afternoon.
That’s when the NHL’s Department of Player Safety announced that Kings top defenseman Drew Doughty, a Norris Trophy candidate who led the league in total minutes, was suspended for one game for “an illegal hit to the head” on Vegas forward William Carrier midway through the third period of the Golden Knights’ 1-0 series-opening victory on Wednesday night.
Game 2 of the best-of-seven series is Friday night at T-Mobile Arena
Carrier, who had a game-high 10 hits in the contest, including several hard ones on Doughty, left the ice woozy with what was called an upper-body injury after the hit while carrying the puck into the right corner of the Kings’ zone. He didn’t practice Thursday and was listed as day-to-day by Golden Knights head coach Gerard Gallant.
Replays showed that Doughty initially hit Carrier on the top of the left shoulder but the hit then continued and caught the Vegas forward in the head.
“Doughty delivers a high, forceful hit that makes Carrier’s head the main point of contact on a hit where such head contact was avoidable Cheap Baker Mayfield Jersey ,” the NHL said in its narrative on the video review of the play. “The illegal check to the head rule does not take into account what the first point of contact is.”
Doughty set career highs for assists (50) and points (60) this season and ran his consecutive games played streak to 328 in Wednesday’s series opener, just two shy of the team record held by Anze Kopitar. The timing couldn’t be worse for a Los Angeles squad that is already without injured defensemen Jake Muzzin and Derek Forbort.
Doughty had a phone hearing with the Department of Player Safety after practice on Thursday afternoon. Kings head coach John Stevens refused to discuss the situation with the media afterward other than to say “if it is (an issue), it’s next man up, obviously.”
The opener featured 127 hits, including 68 by the Kings, but both coaches pooh-poohed it as being an overly physical game.
“When I see 68 to 59 hits, I don’t buy it,” Gallant said. “If they’re counting every bump, fine. Jonathan Marchessault, he got eight hits. I mean Kalen Ballage Color Rush Jersey , he finished some checks. But I don’t buy it.”
“I think the teams played hard (but) I’m not sure where that number comes from,” Stevens said. “I don’t think anybody would be playing tomorrow if those numbers were accurate. I don’t want to sound disrespectful when I say this, but sometimes I don’t even know where they’re situated when they are marking those stats. There’s such a variety in the way those are gauged building to building that we usually go and look at our own stats.”
The Golden Knights believe it is crucial that they keep home-ice advantage with another win Friday night.
“It’s big,” said defenseman Shea Theodore, who scored the only goal of the game on Wednesday. “Obviously when you get that first win you want to keep that momentum rolling. We’ve been playing pretty strong at home all year. We’re just going to try and keep the same game plan.”