LEBRON James may still be lagging behind in his chase for Michael Jordan in championship rings, but The King surpassed His Airness in the NBA history books on Thursday (Friday, Manila time).
James set a historic feat in marching to his seventh straight NBA Finals appearance as the Cleveland Cavaliers finished off the Boston Celtics in emphatic fashion, 135-102, to win the Eastern Conference Finals, 4-1, at the TD Garden.
The Cavs were clicking early on, setting the franchise record for points in a quarter behind Kevin Love and James, who shot a perfect 5-of-5 in the first period, as Cleveland took a 43-27 lead.
Deron Williams took over in the second quarter with 14 points off the bench to help the Cavs extend the lead to as high as 23, but the Celtics kept grinding and cut the lead down to 18 at the half after back-to-back fastbreak slams off steals by Avery Bradley.
The onslaught continued in the third quarter as Cleveland got off a 20-8 start to extend the lead to 30. Then James added another milestone in an already stellar career.
Trailing previous record-holder Michael Jordan by 27points before the game, James made his mark as the new scoring leader in NBA playoffs history with a triple at the 2:35 mark of the period as Cleveland led 103-71. James had 29 points at that point and had 5,989 markers for the all-time postseason mark.
Jordan scored 5,987 in his postseason career in 179 games from 1985-2003. James played in his 212th career postseason game on Thursday.
And James didn’t stop there, scoring 15 in the period to bring the advantage up to 35 into the last frame.
Both teams opted to rest their stars in the fourth quarter with the game already out of hand. The Cavs bench showed no let-up to seal their third straight championship showdown with the Golden State Warriors.
James finished with 35 points in three quarters, on 13-of-18 shooting, to go with eight rebounds, eight assists, three steals and one block. Kyrie Irving knocked down four triples, the same total as James, to add 24 markers, while Kevin Love chipped in a double-double of 15 points and 11 rebounds.
Bradley led the Celtics with 23 points, while Jae Crowder and Gerald Green scored 11 apiece. Terry Rozier added 10 markers off the bench.
The NBA Finals begins Thursday (Friday, Manila time) as Golden State hosts Cleveland for Game 1.