|Celtics win series 4-2|
BOSTON — The Celtics sent LeBron James and the Cavaliers back to Cleveland to admire their regular-season accomplishments.
It's the Celtics who are still in the chase for a title — and they sent the Cavaliers into an early offseason destined to define the future of the franchise and the rest of the NBA, too.
Boston reached the Eastern Conference final Thursday night with a 94-85 victory in Game 6 to take the series 4-2.
Kevin Garnett had 22 points and 12 rebounds, and Rajon Rondo had 21 points and 12 assists for Boston, which opens the conference final Sunday in Orlando. The Magic is 8-0 in the playoffs.
The LeBron Watch began at 10:53 p.m., when Rondo dribbled out the last 14 seconds. James can opt out of his contract July 1, a move that would make the two-time MVP — and zero-time champion — a free agent and set off a scramble for his services from New York to Miami to Los Angeles and back in Cleveland.
"I'll approach this summer with the right mind-set," James said. "I want to win. That's my only thing, my only concern. I've always prided myself — it's all about winning for me and I think the Cavs are committed to doing that. But at the same time, I've given myself options to this point.''
James, who battled an elbow injury in the series, said, "I make no excuses, and I had opportunities to do things I wanted to do. (Shots) just didn't fall for me."
In Game 6 he had 27 points, 10 assists and a career playoff-high 19 rebounds, rebounding from a poor Game 5 in Cleveland. He also had nine turnovers.
Mo Williams scored 20 of his 22 in the first half for the Cavaliers, who led the league with 61 regular-season victories to earn a homecourt advantage that they squandered.
The Celtics led 67-61 when Rasheed Wallace hit a 3-pointer, then Ray Allen stole James' pass and got the ball to Paul Pierce for another 3 to cap a 16-4 run.
James' back-to-back 3s cut the deficit to 78-74 early in the fourth quarter. But Rondo drove for a layup, sparking a 10-0 run that effectively killed off Cleveland's chances.
The sold-out crowd taunted every James free throw with a chant of "New York Knicks!" and fans wore Knicks jerseys with his name on them.
Much of the talk — if James, a native of Akron, Ohio, leaves his hometown team — has been centered on New York. But Sonny Vaccarro, a longtime power figure in amateur basketball who said he considers James a friend, told ESPN Radio that he thinks James will end up with the Bulls.
"I didn't play this season wondering about what I was going to do in the offseason," James said. "I approached every game, every practice, every day like it was my last."
Cleveland coach Mike Brown said he wasn't ready to think about the future.
"It wouldn't be fair to everyone in that locker room to think beyond tonight," he said.
CLEVELAND (85): James 8-21 9-12 27, Jamison 2-10 1-2 5, O'Neal 4-7 3-6 11, M.Williams 8-18 5-5 22, Parker 2-4 1-2 7, West 0-2 3-4 3, Varejao 2-7 2-2 6, Ilgauskas 1-2 0-0 2, Moon 1-2 0-1 2, Hickson 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 28-73 24-34 85.
BOSTON (94): Pierce 4-13 2-2 13, Garnett 11-19 0-0 22, Perkins 1-1 4-8 6, Rondo 9-15 3-7 21, R.Allen 2-8 4-4 8, T.Allen 3-8 4-6 10, Wallace 4-8 3-4 13, Davis 0-3 1-2 1, Finley 0-2 0-0 0, Daniels 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 34-77 21-33 94.
3-Point Goals—Cleveland 5-17 (Parker 2-3, James 2-4, M.Williams 1-4, Moon 0-1, West 0-1, Varejao 0-1, Jamison 0-3), Boston 5-17 (Pierce 3-5, Wallace 2-4, Finley 0-1, Rondo 0-1, T.Allen 0-1, R.Allen 0-5). Fouled Out—None. Rebounds—Cleveland 59 (James 19), Boston 51 (Garnett 12). Assists—Cleveland 17 (James 10), Boston 24 (Rondo 12). Total Fouls—Cleveland 22, Boston 26. Technicals—O'Neal, Cleveland defensive three second, Perkins, Wallace, Boston defensive three second. A—18,624 (18,624).
WADE CASE: A second day of jury selection was needed in the lawsuit pitting Heat star Dwyane Wade against former partners in a failed restaurant deal. One juror selected was excused just before the scheduled opening statements. Because no alternates had been chosen, another pool of 13 jurors — as well as the five remaining ones from the original selection — were summoned by Judge Peter Adrien. After nearly four hours of questioning and deliberating, a panel of six plus an alternate were chosen for the $25 million breach-of-contract case.
Meanwhile, the Heat launched a web campaign at wewantwade.com to try to keep its star, who is eligible to file for free agency July 1. The demand was so great so quickly that the site crashed because of excessive traffic, so the team used a larger server.
WARRIORS: Guard Kelenna Azubuike had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee to repair patella tendinitis.