Celtics Send Cleveland Packing, Advance to ECF

The Boston Celtics defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers 94-85 in Game 6 of their Eastern Conference Semifinals to take the series 4-2.  Kevin Garnett finished with 22 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Celts, while LeBron compiled a meaningless triple-double with 27 points, 19 boards, and 10 assists. However, the key statistic for James was his nine turnovers. Paul Pierce, Rasheed Wallace, Rajon Rondo, and Tony Allen all cracked double digits for Boston as well.

The Celtics came out strong in Game 6, taking an early 8-2 lead on 4-4 shooting from the field. The lead ballooned up to 9 with a little over five minutes left. The Cavs slowly chipped away at the lead, and cut it to three late in the quarter. Sheed knocked down a pair of free throws to close out the first and give the Celts a 25-22 lead. LeBron scored nine in the quarter, and got an important contribution form Mo Williams, who scored 10 with a pair of three-pointers. KG led the charge for Boston, abusing Shaquille O'Neal and scoring 8 points on 4-4 shooting. Both James and Pierce picked up a pair of personal fouls in the opening quarter.

The Celtics and Cavs continued to battle in the 2nd quarter. Boston opened up with an 8-1 run to take a game high 10 point lead. The Cavaliers answered with a run of their own to cut the lead to 4. After Pierce and Sheed both picked up their third personals (and a technical for Wallace of course), Shaq tied up the game at 41-41 for the first time since 2-2. Boston did regain the lead on a TA slam dunk with 42 seconds left in the half to take a 51-49 lead to the half. Williams led the game with 20 at the half, while LeBron had 20 points, 7 boards, and 5 dimes. KG and Tony each put in 10 for the C's, while Rondo led the team with 12 points and 7 assists at the break.

Cleveland started the second half on a 6-0 run to take their biggest lead of the game 55-51. However, Boston put together a 6-0 run of their own to reclaim their four point lead. LeBron recorded his fifth turnover throwing a pass into the first row intended for Anthony Parker during that run. The teams exchanged buckets for the large part of the quarter. KG knocked down a pair of impressive jumpers over Varejao, while Mo, Shaq, and LeBron continued to keep pace  with the Boston offense. After struggling through most of the game, Pierce hit a pair of free throws and knocked down a trey that brought the fans in the TD Banknorth Garden's  to their feet. KG hit another one to open up the Boston lead to nine with 3:30 to go in the quarter. With just over two minutes left Pierce hit another three to extend the lead to 12. Cleveland did manage to cut the Boston lead to nine after the third quarter, 76-67.  After scoring 20 in the first half, the Boston defense held Mo Williams to just 2 points on 1-4 shooting in the quarter.

Early on in the final quarter, the Cavs went on a 7-0 run highlighted by a pair of LBJ threes that cut the Boston lead to 78-74. In the timeout after that, Doc screamed at his team, "I know you all want to win, but you've got to do it together!" Rondo reacted with a steal and a bucket followed by a Pierce three that caused Mike Brown to take a timeout for his team. Just under halfway through the quarter, Pierce drove into the lane and kicked out to Sheed in the corner, who buried a three to give the Celtics a 12 point lead again. Then, on the next possession, KG threw down a dunk that rocked that Garden to cap a 10-0 run and put the C's up 88-74. With LeBron at the line and under 3:30 to go in the game, a chant of, "New York Knicks! New York Knicks!" echoed through the Garden.  Parker hit a three for Cleveland, and James followed it with a dunk to cut the Celtics lead to seven at 92-85 with just over two minutes remaining. KG hit a hook with 1:30 to go, and LeBron threw away another pass to seal the game for the Celtics.

The Celtics will now face the Orlando Magic in the Eastern Conference Finals, the team that eliminated them from the playoffs a year ago..