A Kendrick Perkins three-pointer? It might as well be the basketball equivalent of a quarterback taking a knee.
The big man’s trey in the final seconds of tonight’s contest came well after the shot clock buzzer sounded, but that didn’t matter – the Cleveland Cavaliers had done all but officially secure an Eastern Conference Finals berth with a blowout Game 6 victory.
Led by a strong all-around effort spearheaded by Matthew Dellavedova, the Cavaliers beat the Chicago Bulls 94-73 on Thursday to gain the right to play for a title. Cleveland’s backup point guard paced his team with 19 points, while LeBron James fought through a tough shooting night en route to 15 points, nine rebounds, 11 assists and two blocks.
Kyrie Irving left the game early in the second quarter and didn’t return after stepping on Tristan Thompson’s foot and tweaking his left knee. Though he was listed as “probable” upon receiving minor treatment from team medical personnel, the status of the two-time All-Star was changed to “doubtful” after the Cavaliers used a late second quarter run to open up a 58-44 halftime lead.
It will be another short summer for James, who made more history by guiding Cleveland to its first Conference Finals since 2009.
The Cavaliers will play the winner of the East’s other Semifinal between the Atlanta Hawks and Washington Wizards. Regardless of the result from tomorrow night’s elimination contest, Game 1 of the Conference Finals will be played next Wednesday.
And though James and company won’t be counting on threes from Perkins to thrive in the next round, they certainly will have the chemistry and camaraderie gleefully exhibited here.