LeBron James and the depleted Cleveland Cavaliers won’t get any sympathy from the Celtics when they return to Boston for Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals.

Already laboring to reach his eighth straight NBA Finals with a supporting crew made mostly of cast-offs and throw-ins Sam Hubbard Color Rush Jersey , James lost the only other All-Star on the roster on Saturday when Kevin Love was declared out for the series finale with a concussion.

Now, in what could be his final game in a Cleveland uniform – again – James will have to do it largely on his own.

In Boston, where the Celtics are perfect so far this postseason.

And in a series where the road team hasn’t really even come close.

”There’s something different about LeBron, period,” Cleveland forward Larry Nance Jr. said after James scored 46 with 11 rebounds and nine assists on Friday night to send the series to a decisive seventh game. ”I think (coach Tyronn Lue) said it best: `We’re going into a Game 7 with the baddest dude on the planet on our team.’ I like our chances.”

James is having what could be the best postseason of his career, averaging 33.9 points and just under nine assists and rebounds, with seven 40-point games, two buzzer beaters, and a sweep of top-seeded Toronto. But he’s played in every game this season – Sunday will be his 100th – and it showed in the Game 5 loss to the Celtics.

He admitted to fatigue afterward, and then played all but two minutes in Game 6 despite a sore knee from a collision with Nance.

Still, the four-time MVP carried his team even after Love banged heads with Boston’s Jayson Tatum in the first half and left the game.

”I can’t say enough good things about him,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. ”Every time we watch. Every time you’re standing out there. Every time you watch him on film. Best player in the game.”

James will probably have to do it again in Game 7 to reach the NBA Finals for the eighth straight year, something accomplished only by Bill Russell and some of his Celtics teammates in the 1960s.

Lue said he wasn’t concerned about James’ leg. Or about the team’s history in the TD Garden, where the Cavaliers lost the first three games by an average of 17 points.

”We throw it all out Brian Allen Color Rush Jersey ,” Lue said on Saturday. ”It’s one game left to go to the NBA Finals.”

The Celtics have had their own injury problems, starting in the first quarter of the season opener – at Cleveland – when top free agent Gordon Hayward went out for the year with a broken leg. Five-time All-Star Kyrie Irving, acquired from the Cavaliers in an offseason roster overhaul, needed knee surgery and was lost in March.

But they caught a break when Tatum was cleared to play on Saturday. Stevens said the team doctors checked on him ”and he’s great.”

”So nothing there as far as to be concerned about,” Stevens said.

Well, there’s one thing to be concerned about.

”We know LeBron is different than a lot of other guys, but we’ve got to get the job done,” Celtics guard Terry Rozier said. ”That’s no excuse, so we’re looking forward to it.”

For James, it’s an opportunity to extend the season for his hometown team and put off another summer of questions about his future. Eight years ago, he came to Boston for the conference semifinals and had a triple-double – 27 points, 19 rebounds and 10 assists – but shot 8 for 21 with nine turnovers and the Celtics eliminated the Cavs from the playoffs.

As he left the court, James stripped off his Cleveland jersey; then came ”The Decision” and the move to Miami.

James is again able to become a free agent this season, with the Lakers Dante Pettis Color Rush Jersey , 76ers and Rockets among the most-mentioned destinations. Having led Cleveland to the city’s first major sports title in half a century in 2016, there is less pulling at him to stay home this time.

But another title would ease the pain even more. And with the injury bug hitting the Western Conference finalists – Chris Paul was the latest ruled out for a game – the East champion might not be as big an underdog as expected.

James will be ready.

”You’ve got to be poised. You’ve got to be able to handle a punch or two,” he said. ”We know it’s challenging. They’re 10-0 on their home floor, and they’ve been very successful against us, obviously, at home. But if you love challenges, then this is a great opportunity.”



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Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman earned accolades for making the boldest moves in improving Tampa Bay’s Stanley Cup aspirations at the NHL’s trade deadline in February.

Evander Kane, however, might have been the biggest beneficiary after being dealt by eventual last-place Buffalo to San Jose on Feb. 26. Kane couldn’t contain his glee on his Twitter account a week ago in posting a message which read : ”(hashtag)playoffmode it’s about time!”

It took him nine years and four cities – from Atlanta to Winnipeg, Buffalo and now San Jose – since being selected with the No. 4 pick by the then-Thrashers in the 2009 draft to finally prepare for his playoff debut. It will happen Thursday, when the Sharks open their Pacific Division first-round series at Anaheim.

”It makes it easy to come to the rink. It makes it easy to play with this group of guys,” Kane said. ”I’m having a lot of fun right now.”

The Sharks, who gave up a prospect and two conditional draft picks, including a potential first-rounder Terrelle Pryor Sr. Color Rush Jersey , might not be in this position without Kane. The 26-year-old picked up the offensive slack on a team that closed the season minus star Joe Thornton. Kane scored nine goals, including two game-winners, and added five assists in 17 games.

In closing the season at 12-7-1, the Sharks’ 25 points ranked in a tie for 10th among NHL teams since the trade deadline.

”He’s a crucial part of our team,” center Chris Tierney said of Kane. ”Just gives us an extra layer of everything.”

Kane wasn’t the only late-season addition to provide his new team a boost.

Yzerman added offense, defense and leadership to an already elite team by acquiring New York Rangers captain Ryan McDonagh and forward J.T. Miller in one of the final trades completed. Miller led all players traded on Feb. 26 by scoring 10 goals and piling up 18 points in 19 games.

”When you add two players like that and give up what they did, it’s you know: They’re in it to win it,” former player and NBC hockey analyst Eddie Olczyk said of the Lightning.

Fellow analyst, Pierre McGuire looked to the moves made by Nashville.

The Predators gave up a first-round draft pick in adding size and versatility to acquire forward Ryan Hartman from Chicago. They welcomed back veteran Mike Fisher, who signed out of retirement. They also signed forward Eeli Tolvanen , after the rookie first-round pick’s Kontinental Hockey League season ended last month.

”You look at everything Nashville has done, they never messed with the roster integrity that was created at the beginning of the year by David Poile and Paul Fenton,” McGuire said, referring to Predators management. ”So I think Nashville quietly http://www.saintsauthorizedshops.com...amerson-jersey , whether it’s at the deadline or just before, did some amazing things.”

The Presidents’ Trophy-winning Predators (15-4-2), Winnipeg (15-4-1), Columbus (14-4-2) and Boston (13-5-4) led the NHL in points since Feb. 26.

Columbus jumped from 19th in the overall standings to 14th in a run that coincided with the additions of forward Thomas Vanek and defenseman Ian Cole.

Paul Stastny scored four goals and 13 points with playoff-bound Winnipeg, after being traded by St. Louis for a first-round pick. The Blues, by comparison, closed 10-7-2 and missed the playoffs with a season-ending loss to Colorado. And don’t forget Patrick Maroon, who had three goals and 10 points in 17 games for New Jersey, which acquired him from Edmonton.

The Capitals filled secondary defensive needs by adding Michal Kempny and Jakub Jerabek just before the trade deadline.

”We had holes to fill this year and we filled them with guys that aren’t as high-profile, but are just steady, and provided the things we needed for our team,” Capitals GM Brian MacLellan said.

After appearing in just 31 games in Chicago, Kempny played 22 in Washington while securing a role alongside Norris Trophy-candidate John Carlson.

In Philadelphia, goalie Petr Mrazek held the fort in going 6-6-4 in place of injured starter Brian Elliott. Elliott returned in time to win the final two games including a 17-save shutout in a season-ending Sean Newcomb Atlanta Braves Jersey , playoff-clinching 5-0 win over the Rangers.

Not all the trades paid off down the stretch.

Rick Nash missed Boston’s final 12 games with an upper body injury after being acquired in a trade with the Rangers.

Tomas Plekanec managed just two assists in 17 games with Toronto after being acquired from Montreal.

Tomas Tatar had four goals and six points in 20 games with Vegas, which landed him in a deal with Detroit.



AP Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno, in Washington, and sports writers Josh Dubow, in San Jose, and Teresa M. Walker, in Nashville, contributed to this report.



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