CHICAGO, May 15 – LeBron James got plenty of help from his supporting cast on Thursday as the Cleveland Cavaliers punched their ticket to the NBA’s Eastern Conference finals with a 94-73 victory over the Chicago Bulls.
Four-time NBA Most Valuable Player James endured a tough shooting night but still finished one rebound shy of a triple-double with 15 points, 11 assists and nine rebounds.
Rising Cavs star Kyrie Irving reinjured his left knee in the second quarter and sat out much of the game, but a string of lesser-known players stepped up to help the Cavs wrap up a four-games-to-two victory in the best-of-seven second-round series.
While James will be playing in his fifth straight Eastern Conference finals, the last four were during his tenure in Miami.
The Cavaliers are back in the conference finals, with a place in the NBA championship series on the line, for the first time since 2009.
Matthew Dellavedova scored 11 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter, Iman Shumpert scored 13 points and pulled down seven rebounds and J.R. Smith added 12 points and eight rebounds in a win that will let the banged-up Cavs get some rest.
They’ll open the conference finals next Wednesday, either hosting the Washington Wizards or traveling to the Atlanta Hawks.
The Hawks will be trying to close out the Wizards on Friday.
The time off will be a special boon to Irving, who was already dealing with a right foot strain and tendinitis in his left knee.
He departed the game at the 9:47 mark of the second quarter with left knee trouble and didn’t return.
In Western Conference action on Thursday, the Los Angeles Clippers were trying to reach the conference finals for the first time.
They took a 3-2 series lead over Houston into game six in Los Angeles having missed a chance to close out the Rockets in game five on Tuesday.