CLEVELAND: Suddenly the mighty Western Conference does not look so mighty.

And that could have been the underlying motivation in the Cavaliers’ 109-99 victory over the Boston Celtics in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals Friday night at Quicken Loans Arena.

The Cavs gutted out a rugged fourth quarter that included LeBron James appearing to suffer a sprained right ankle and forced a Game 7 Sunday night in Boston. The sellout crowd chanted “Cavs in seven” as the final seconds ticked down.

Coming in, James had excelled in possible elimination games. He improved to 11-3 in such situations since 2011, 6-2 since 2015, and scoring 40 points in five of those eight.

He did not deviate from his high standard, pouring in 25 points in the first half and finishing with 46 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists despite injuring the right side of his leg and ankle when teammate Larry Nance Jr. fell into him with 8:25 to go.

James — who didn’t know who’d injured him until Nance apologized — remained in the game until 57 seconds remained and scored 12 points after being hurt, a performance that added to his legend during his legendary season.

After the Celtics cut a 16-point deficit to seven, James hit back-to-back 3-pointers. On the second, he scrunched his face and pounded his chest as the Celtics called timeout with 1:40 to go.

But as the Cavs also survived the loss of Kevin Love, evaluated for a concussion after banging heads with Jayson Tatum and leaving with 6:58 to go in the first quarter, some of their determination may have come from the wild, wild West.

After the Houston Rockets took a 3-2 lead over the defending champion Golden State Warriors Thursday night, the Cavs’ greater goal once again seems possible. James and the Cavs see a chance for another championship.

There was a time in these playoffs when one could legitimately question whether James wanted to extend his consecutive Finals streak to eight just to fail again on his sport’s grandest stage.

Now there is a window of opportunity. And when James smells vulnerability, he usually attacks.

In the past two games of the West finals, the Warriors have as many turnovers (32) as assists. The Warriors’ Kevin Durant has made just one field goal in the fourth quarter of those two. The Rockets’ James Harden has missed 20 consecutive 3-pointers, the longest stretch of the presumed MVP winner’s career. Houston’s Chris Paul suffered a hamstring injury Thursday night in Game 5 and has been dealing with a sore left foot since Game 2.

The two best in the West have seemingly regressed into isolation basketball. The Rockets don’t look like the team that crushed the Cavs 120-88 at the Q on Feb. 3. Something seems off with the Warriors, who have beaten the Cavs in two of the last three Finals and went 2-0 against them in the regular season.

While the Cavs’ supporting cast was floundering, even as recently as Wednesday’s Game 5 loss in Boston, they may have found something to unite them, something to make them forget that James might depart in free agency.

Of course, staving off elimination was the main reason the Cavs showed such fight. Jeff Green filled in admirably for Love with 14 points. George Hill played with the aggressiveness that has been spotty since he arrived in Feb. 8 trade, scoring a 2018 playoff-high 20 points.

Cavs coach Tyronn Lue used nine players — much to the consternation of some on Twitter — to the Celtics’ seven and the Cavs reserves had a 36-23 scoring edge. The Cavs held a 44-31 advantage on the boards, and an 18-7 edge in second-chance points.

But the situation in the Western Conference was on the minds of many staffers at shoot-around. Even if it wasn’t a topic of locker room conversation, all had to be aware.

Harden has been one of the league’s biggest stars since the Oklahoma City Thunder traded him to the Rockets in October 2012, months after his only trip to the Finals. In that one, the Thunder lost to James and the Miami Heat.

Before the game, Lue wouldn’t rule out the fact that the Cavs and Warriors could meet for the fourth consecutive year in the Finals even though both teams trailed in their series 3-2.

“Rudy Tomjanovich said, ‘Never underestimate the heart of a champion,’?” Lue said. “Until we’re dead in our grave, until Golden State is dead in their grave, it’s not over. I’m pretty sure both teams are thinking that way.”

But in the case of the Cavs, there was a caveat attached. At the moment the defending champions’ crown has lost a little of its luster and the Cavs can see its gleam — for themselves.