Jeff Green will play in the NBA Finals for the first time in his career after he scored 19 points to help the Cleveland Cavaliers upend the Boston Celtics 87-79 in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals.
Green started in place of the injured Kevin Love, who was placed in the league's concussion protocol on Saturday after knocking heads with Celtics rookie Jayson Tatum in Game 6 on Friday. Love made the trip to Boston and was in attendance Sunday night.
"We said we want to do this for Kevin,'' Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said. "Kevin wanted to play, to be in a Game 7 situation like this in the Eastern Conference finals, being an All-Star, being our second-best player, and he just wasn't able to go. The guys picked him up, so now he has another chance when we get to the Finals to be ready.''
Making his first start since the first-round opener against Indiana, Green added eight rebounds, an assist and a block in addition to his 19 points.
"I worked hard to get to this position. I can't put into words, man," Green told ESPN's Dave McMenamin after Game 7. "Hard work, dedication, I gave everything ... I still got more to go, not satisfied, gotta continue to work, to get better."
Green was second on the Cavs in scoring Sunday night, behind only LeBron James (35), as Cleveland came back from a 12-point second-quarter deficit to hand Boston its first home defeat this postseason.
"Jeff is my guy," James said in his on-court interview after earning his eighth straight trip to the NBA Finals. "Every time before a game, we do our 'Wakanda Forever' handshake. When his number was called, he answered the bell."
Green, who finished the night 2-for-9 from beyond the arc, was asked about the Celtics daring him to shoot the 3 in Game 7.
"I'ma shoot 'em, I'ma shoot 'em," he replied. "I got all the confidence in myself. I work on my game."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.