CLEVELAND, (Reuters) – LeBron James celebrated his second consecutive MVP award with a 35 point haul to fire the Cleveland Cavaliers to a 101-93 victory over the Boston Celtics in their Eastern Conference semi-final series opener on Saturday.
Earlier in the day, James confirmed that he had won the NBA’s top honour and he did not allow a sprained right elbow to slow him down as he helped the conference’s top seed overcome an 11-point third quarter deficit.
The Cleveland forward wrapped up the win with a three-pointer with 22 seconds to play.
“If I’m on the court, I have to be productive,” James told reporters when asked about the elbow “No excuses.”
Guard Mo Williams added 20 points for the Cavaliers, while Rajon Rondo led the Celtics with 27 points and 12 assists.
Williams delivered his first-ever dunk as a Cavalier in the third quarter to help swing the momentum back to the home side, who hosted Game Two in the best-of-seven series yesterday.
“It was a big play,” Williams said. “My intention was to shoot a floater or a layup.
“I realised I was a little high so I thought I might try it. It turned out pretty good.”
He had 14 points in a productive third quarter as Cleveland fought to get back in the game.
“They came out swinging and then I think we just shied away and stopped doing what we were doing,” Rondo said.
“We stopped being aggressive, not just offensively but defensively as well. We stopped our pressure. They started attacking us, and we fell back on our heels.”
The Celtics point guard had only one field goal in the second half and got little help from his team mates.
Paul Pierce had just 13 points and turned the ball over four times and shooting guard Ray Allen was held to 14.
Kevin Garnett fared better, however, backing up Rondo with 18 points and 10 rebounds.