LeBron James scored 33 points and grabbed 10 rebounds Sunday afternoon to lead the Cleveland Cavaliers to a 106-102 win over Indiana and a 4-game sweep of the Pacers in their first-round playoff series at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
James — who made a key 3-pointer with 1:08 left — became the first player under the current playoff format to win 21 straight first-round games.
James, who averaged 32.8 points, 9.8 rebounds and 9.0 assists in the series, also set a league record with his 10th career playoff sweep.
It is the first time the Pacers have been swept in a 7-game series.
“I go out every night to try and win a ball game … do whatever it takes to help my teammates be successful and do whatever it takes to help me be successful,” James said. “That’s been the result of it.”
Trailing 96-83 the Pacers outscored the Cavs, 19-4, to take a 102-100 lead with 1:31 remaining. James drilled the go-ahead trey 23 seconds later, and followed that by stealing the ball from Indiana forward Thaddeus Young, with Kyle Korver eventually making a pair of foul shots to give Cleveland a 105-102 advantage.
The teams traded turnovers in the final seconds, and during a mad scramble with time running out, George air-balled a 3-pointer that could have forced overtime.
James grabbed the rebound, was fouled immediately and made 1-of-2 free throws with 1 second left to ice the win.
The 4-time MVP also had another signature defensive play in the third quarter when he chased down Young and blocked his layup attempt from behind, a play that gave the Cavs added momentum.
Lance Stephenson scored 22 points to lead the Pacers. Myles Turner scored 20 points, Jeff Teague had 15 points and 10 assists, Paul George added 15 and Young finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds. George shot just 5-of-21 from the floor.
“It’s real frustrating to continue on losing to the same team or same person. Really frustrating,” said George, who will become a free agent after next season and has been the rumor of trade talks for several months.
“That’s the team we have to work toward stacking up against. If we want to be serious, that’s the team we want to figure out how we can match up with them.”
Kyrie Irving added 28 points for the Cavs, Deron Williams came off the bench to score 14.
Cleveland will be well rested when it hosts either Milwaukee or Toronto in the Eastern Conference semifinals. Game 1 is Monday, May 1.
Notes: The loss was Indiana’s fifth straight in the playoffs. … The Pacers have lost six of their last eight postseason games. … According to the Elias Sports Bureau, James passed former Lakers Michael Cooper, Magic Johnson and James Worthy to take the top spot on the league’s list of consecutive first-round wins (21). … He also passed former Spurs star Tim Duncan for most career sweeps in playoff history (10). … James is tied with former Lakers great Kobe Bryant (fourth place) for the most field goals in playoff history — both have 2,014 baskets.
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