The Cleveland Cavaliers will be without forward Kevin Love for game seven of the NBA Eastern Conference finals against Boston on Sunday after the forward was placed in the league's concussion protocol.
The Cavaliers said Love, who inadvertently bashed heads with Celtics rookie Jayson Tatum in the first quarter of Game 6, experienced concussion-like symptoms Saturday before the team's flight to Boston. Many thought he would play all 48, especially after he asked to come out with just a couple minutes left in the first half, forcing head coach Tyronn Lue to call a timeout in order to keep his best player in the game rather than subbing him out.
It's only fitting that the Eastern Conference finals are coming down to a Game 7.
It's fair to wonder whether James has indeed played his final game in Cleveland as a Cav, 11 glorious and complicated seasons in.
The toll 82 regular season games and 16 playoff games has taken on James was evident on May 23 when the Cavs were beaten by the Celtics, 96-83, in Game 5 in Boston. While the 24-year-old rarely stuffs the stat sheet, he makes his presence known in each game with tenacious defense and an unmatched will to win. James finished with 26 points, 10 rebounds, and five assists but committed six turnovers and looked exhausted at times.
In what might be the most improbable postseason story, the undermanned Celtics sit one win away from the NBA Finals.
If that doesn't smell enough like victory to you, then consider that Friday's Game 6 was up almost 6% from the Celtics' winning Game 5 of May 23, which also topped that night.
That machine was on full display in Game 6 Friday night, unleashing a monstrous display of domination.
"I think out of those six (turnovers in Game 5), maybe three of them were just careless", James told reporters after the game.
"We know LeBron is different than a lot of other guys, but we've got to get the job done", Celtics guard Terry Rozier said.
James posted his seventh 40-point game of these playoffs on Friday, matching Jordan's best from 1989 - and LeBron's numbers when facing elimination are simply silly. In fact, LeBron has received his fair share of criticism in the past for either missing key shots or passing them up, when it counted most. Tatum had 13 points, and Horford had 10 points and seven boards at the break. On the first one, Tatum came about as close as you can get to blocking the shot without doing so.
What's insane is that James' 46 minutes Friday night aren't even the most he's played this postseason.
"We can't just rely on us being at home for an excuse that it's going to be easy".
"We know it's challenging, they turn it on on their home floor".
Game 7 is on.