Basketball

Celtics have no answer to James

LeBron James delivered 38 points and Kevin Love had a career play-off high 32 as the defending champions Cleveland Cavaliers opened their Eastern Conference Final series with a blowout win yesterday morning (Singapore time).

The Cavaliers were coming off a 10-day break, but showed no signs of rust by going wire-to-wire to easily beat the Boston Celtics 117-104 at the Boston Garden arena.

"Starting the game, LeBron really controlled the tempo, really set the tone early," Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue said. "He's playing at a high level right now, and that's the reason we're riding on him so much."

Game Two is at the Garden tomorrow morning before the series shifts to Cleveland for Games Three and Four.

"Amazing, but he's better than when I first got into the league," said Celtics's fourth-year coach Brad Stevens of James.

James, who is seeking to reach his seventh straight NBA Finals, scored 15 in the fourth quarter en route to his seventh straight 30-point game. He also had nine rebounds and seven assists.

"We didn't shoot the ball as well as we're capable of shooting it," James said.

The Cavaliers managed to keep Isaiah Thomas in check as he finished with just 17 points and 10 assists.

The win was the Cavaliers' 12th in a row in the play-offs (one shy of matching the NBA record set by the 1988-89 LA Lakers), dating back to last year's Finals.

Boston had their five-game home play-off winning streak snapped. - AFP