Sports Outside the Beltway

Celtics Defeat Cavaliers In NBA Playoffs, LeBron James Speculation Begins

lebronjamesOnce again, LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers fell short in the quest for an NBA Championship:

BOSTON (AP) — The Boston Celtics sent LeBron James and the Cavaliers back to Cleveland to admire all of their regular-season accomplishments.

It’s the Celtics who are still in the chase for an NBA title.

Kevin Garnett scored 22 points and added 12 rebounds, and Rajon Rondo had 21 points and 12 assists to beat Cleveland 94-85 in Game 6 on Thursday night. Boston advanced to the Eastern Conference finals, which begin Sunday in Orlando against the Magic, who are 8-0 in the playoffs after sweeping the Charlotte Bobcats and the Atlanta Hawks in the opening rounds.

Despite his fifth career playoff triple-double, James is headed for another early offseason after winning a second MVP award and leading the Cavs to an NBA-best 61 wins and a home-court advantage they never got to use.

This one is destined to define the future of the franchise — and the rest of the NBA, too.

The LeBron watch began at 10:53 p.m., when Rondo dribbled out the last 14 seconds and the Celtics began celebrating. James is eligible to opt out of his contract this summer, a move that would make the two-time MVP — and zero-time NBA champion — a free agent and set off a scramble for his services from New York to Miami to Los Angeles and, of course, back in Cleveland.

”We know their team is fueled by one guy, and he has a hell of a supporting cast,” Garnett said. ”We knew that if we could somehow, someway control that supporting cast, then we had a good chance of beating this team.”

It’s long been speculated that this would be James’s last year in Cleveland if the Cavaliers didn’t win a Championship, and that he’d utilized the opt-out provision in his contract to move to a team that had a better chance of going all the way. Clevelanders, on the other hand, have always held out the hope that James’s ties to the community would keep him in town.

With the playoffs over once again for the Cavs, the ball is, quite literally, in LeBron’s court.


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