Jeff Green of Cleveland Cavaliers to start in place of hurt Kevin Love in Game 7

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BOSTON — Jeff Green will start in place of Kevin Love in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals, Cleveland Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue announced at the team’s shootaround Sunday morning.

Love was placed in the league’s concussion protocol on Saturday after knocking heads with Boston Celtics rookie Jayson Tatum in Game 6 on Friday. Love made the trip to Boston and is expected to be in attendance Sunday night, barring any concussion-related headaches, a team source told ESPN.

Green, a 10-year veteran, is one win away from playing in the NBA Finals for the first time in his career.

“It’s a lot,” Green said Sunday morning when asked what the opportunity means to him. “It’s a chance to go to the Finals. I’m prepared. So it will be fun.”

Green had 14 points, three rebounds, two assists and two blocks in Game 6, filling in for Love after he went out in the first quarter.

“He attacked the small guys, the switches, and took his time, did a good job attacking, rebounded the ball well,” Lue said of Green’s Game 6 performance. “I just think defensively being able to switch and guard multiple positions, that’s huge for us. He was able to switch a lot more, we were able to do a lot of different stuff defensively and he came through for us.”

Love’s injury wasn’t the only one sustained by Cleveland on Friday: LeBron James hurt his right leg when Larry Nance Jr. inadvertently fell into it in the fourth quarter.

“It’s been better, but I’ll be ready tonight,” James said at shootaround when asked for an update on his leg.

By one measurement, 2017-18 has been as arduous of a season as James has ever had: Sunday marks his 100th game played between the regular season and playoffs, tying for the most he’s ever played with his 2010-11 season with the Miami Heat.

“Today is really the only thing I can think about,” James said. “I haven’t thought about the full year yet, in its entirety. I feel like anybody else would feel playing 100 games in a season.”

In other words, Game 7 is more important context to him than Game 100, and James is 5-2 in Game 7s in his career.

“I’m at ease with the game of basketball, period, no matter the situation,” he said.

James was asked what will separate the Cavs and Celtics after they’ve split the first six games of the series.

“You’ve got to make shots,” he said. “You’ve got to get defensive stops. Fifty-fifty balls, grit, first man to the floor. It’s who wants it the most, obviously. That comes with it as well. The mind, able to be sharp as well. See what happens.”

Without his team’s second All-Star in Love, Lue is hoping for a collective effort on the defensive end to guide the Cavs to victory.

“I think the biggest thing when you come into a Game 7, the most important thing, is just having the effort and the energy defensively,” Lue said. “If you do everything hard, taking charges, dive on the floor for loose balls, that right there will open up everything for your offense. Doing stuff defensively, that’s got to be our mindset to start.”

To accomplish their goal, the Cavs will have to snap the Celtics’ perfect 10-0 record at TD Garden this postseason.

“I expect it to be loud,” said Green, a former Celtic. “I expect the crowd to be really into it. I mean, it’s Boston. I don’t expect it to be any other way.”

Lue was asked to reflect on the duality of his team’s situation, with Sunday’s result determining whether the Cavs become just the fourth team in NBA history to make it to four consecutive Finals or seeing that string of success snapped and entering an offseason rife with speculation as to the team’s future.

“My reaction is win one game,” Lue said. “That’s the only reaction I have. No one said it was going to be easy. If it was easy, everybody would be here. Nothing else matters now except for tonight. That’s all we’re focused on.”



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