BOSTON — With a little help from his friends, though not that much, LeBron James dazzled once again in a playoff elimination game, sending the Cavaliers back to the N.B.A. finals on Sunday night and keeping himself in a Cleveland uniform for at least another two weeks.
In a game that looked bleak at the outset, with the Cavaliers playing without the injured Kevin Love, James powered an offense that started the game atrociously and then did just enough to break the upstart hearts of the young Boston Celtics, 87-79, in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals.
James played all 48 minutes and finished with 35 points, 15 rebounds and 9 assists, missing a triple-double only because the Cavaliers missed 26 of 35 3-pointers, many of them uncontested shots set up by pinpoint passes from James.
Fortunately for the Cavaliers, the Celtics were even worse, shooting 7 for 39 from behind the 3-point line. As a result, Boston’s somewhat improbable playoff run, which came with two All-Star players — Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving — lost to injury, ended in stark disappointment. And with James triumphant once again.