Cavaliers earn a trip to Detroit
They beat the Nets, 88-72, to reach Eastern Conference finals for first time in 15 years.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — LeBron James came back just in time to make sure the New Jersey Nets couldn’t.
James, who had a long stint on the bench because of foul trouble, scored 23 points, and the Cleveland Cavaliers advanced to the Eastern Conference finals for the first time in 15 years by beating the Nets, 88-72, on Friday.
Cleveland won the series, 4-2, and heads to Detroit on Monday night for its third appearance in a conference finals and the first since 1992.
James, who had eight rebounds and eight assists, needed only four years to get the Cavaliers into the NBA’s final four.
He got plenty of help from reserves Donyell Marshall and Daniel Gibson, and Cleveland needed it because James spent most of the third quarter on the bench and the Cavaliers scored only eight points.
New Jersey cut what had been a 22-point deficit to one, but with James back for the fourth quarter, the Nets never led.
Marshall scored 18 points and Gibson had eight. They had combined for 26 points total in the first five games of the series.
The Nets were hoping to become the ninth NBA team to come back from a 3-1 deficit to win a series.
HOSTILE TERRITORY: Cleveland’s LeBron James finds himself surrounded by New Jersey Nets as he goes up for a shot. He scored 23 points to help the Cavaliers win the semifinal series, 4-2.