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Cleveland Cavaliers clinch fourth straight NBA Finals appearance with Game 7 win over Boston Celtics

Thanks to a 35-point performance from LeBron James to beat the Boston Celtics in Game 7 87-79, the Cleveland Cavaliers are heading back to a fourth straight NBA Finals.

BOSTON -- Entering the 2018 NBA Playoffs, the Cleveland Cavaliers adopted the motto "whatever it takes."

What it took was another seven-game series.

With a 87-79 win over the Boston Celtics in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals, the Cavs clinched another trip to the NBA Finals -- their fourth appearance in the championship round in as many years. The Cavs will meet the winner of Monday's Game 7 in the Western Conference between the Houston Rockets and Golden State Warriors, with Game 1 of the NBA Finals coming on Thursday, May 31.

LeBron James -- who is heading to the Finals for a record eighth straight year -- played all 48 minutes of Game 7, scoring 35 points to go along with 14 rebounds and 9 assists. Starting in place of Kevin Love, who missed Game 7 with concussion-like symptoms, veteran forward Jeff Green scored 19 points.

What follows is a recap of the Cavs' Game 7 victory in Boston, complete with highlights and analysis.

Fourth quarter

3:47: Cavs 76, Celtics 73: Cavs holding onto a 3-point lead down the stretch. LeBron with 29 points, 13 rebounds and 8 assists. Jeff Green with 19 points.

6:55: Cavs 71, Celtics 67: Cavs push their lead to four on a LeBron 2-point jumper.

Third quarter

End of quarter: Cavs 59, Celtics 56: Celtics had tied the game at 56 on an Aron Baynes free throw, before LeBron drains a 3 to send the Cavs into the fourth quarter gripping onto a 3-point lead.

2:55: Cavs 56, Celtics 53: A 9-0 run pushes the Cavs ahead by as many as five points, but a Marcus Smart steal and layup cuts Cleveland's lead to 3.

7:20: Celtics 47, Cavs 44: Cavs hanging around, as a J.R. Smith 3 cuts the Celtics' lead to 3.

Second quarter

End of quarter: Celtics 43, Cavs 39: Cavs somehow only down four heading into halftime. "The Other Cavs" began to provide some help, but they're going to need more of it for Cleveland to close this one out.

1:45: Celtics 39, Cavs 37: And we have a ballgame. Cavs break off a 14-4 run, which included a J.R. Smith 3 and Tristan Thompson putback. LeBron with 17 points and 10 rebounds already.

6:47: Celtics 35, Cavs 23: Boston bumps its lead up to 12 as Cleveland remains stagnant on offense. Al Horford with 12 points and Jayson Tatum with 11.

First quarter

End of quarter: Celtics 26, Cavs 18: Celtics end the quarter on a 9-2 run to stretch their lead back to eight. Looking like it might have to be a 48-minute game for LeBron, who has 12 points and 5 rebounds.

2:58: Celtics 17, Cavs 16: Cavs fight back and take a brief lead -- on a Jeff Green eurostep nonetheless -- but give it back on a Marcus Morris layup. LeBron up to 12 points and 4 rebounds.

8:19: Celtics 11, Cavs 4: Boston jumps out to an early 11-4 lead behind 7 points from Jayson Tatum. LeBron has the Cavs' only two baskets thus far.

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