James dominates Celtics as Cavs draw level

James dominates Celtics as Cavs draw level

LeBron James knows the path to the NBA Finals better than anyone in today's game.

And unless the Boston Celtics do something soon, he'll get there again.

James bullied his way to 44 points, surpassed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar atop a postseason list and helped the Cleveland Cavaliers even the Eastern Conference finals at 2-2 on Monday night with a 111-102 victory over the Celtics, who are looking forward to getting home before their adoring fans.

Pushed by a raucous crowd that wasn't so confident a few days ago, the Cavs held off Boston's comeback in the fourth quarter and squared a tight series that is now a best-of-three.

Cleveland are trying to become the 20th team - out of 300 - to overcome a 2-0 deficit and James, who has already orchestrated two such rallies and is seeking his eighth straight finals, is a step closer to a third.

But to do it again the Cavs will have to win in Boston, where the Celtics are 9-0 this postseason.

"It's a hostile environment," James said. "We understand that. We know that there's no love in there. If you ain't got on green, if you don't play for that team, if you don't bleed green, they got no love for you. So we've got to come out with a bunker mentality and understand it's just us. It's going to be a great atmosphere."

Game five is Wednesday night at TD Center, and Celtics coach Brad Stevens is trying to stay positive with a team that has given up a 2-0 lead and fell to 1-6 on the road in these playoffs.

"It's the best two out of three to go to the NBA Finals. Doesn't get better than that," he said. "Ultimately, anybody that didn't think this was going to be tough, I mean, everything is tough. In this deal, it's a blast to have to grit your teeth, get up off the mat and go after it again."

Australian big man Aron Baynes started on the bench as Boston coach Brad Stevens stuck by his outgunned game three starting five, and the move backfired as the Cavs shot out to a 34-18 lead.

Baynes finished the game with eight points and seven rebounds in 16 minutes.

Kyle Korver added 14 points and Cleveland's sharp-shooting 37-year-old added several hustle plays, outrunning three Celtics in one sequence and diving for a loose ball.

Tristan Thompson had 13 points and 12 rebounds for the Cavs, who won despite 19 turnovers and two assists in the second half. Kevin Love had just nine points on three-of-12 shooting and was in foul trouble, but he made a big three-pointer and follow shot in the fourth quarter.

Jaylen Brown scored 25 and Boston had all five scorers in double figures, but the Celtics fell behind by 19 in the first half and didn't have enough to catch Cleveland.