CLEVELAND: The Cavaliers’ game plan changed just five minutes into the first quarter of Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Boston Celtics on Friday night.

That’s when the heads of Cavs forward Kevin Love and Celtics forward Jayson Tatum collided, and in an instant significant minutes on the court became available as Love went to the locker room after falling to the court in pain.

Tatum stayed in the game as his team tried to eliminate the Cavs in six games.

Love never returned to the game, which the Cavs won 109-99 to force a Game 7 on Sunday night at the TD Garden in Boston.

The team announced Saturday that Love has been placed in the league’s concussion protocol and will not play in Game 7.

“Kevin left the game,” Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said. “He didn’t come back, and guys got together and they played. They played for Kevin. They played for each other and were able to get the win.”

LeBron James scored 46 points in 46 minutes to lead the Cavs. He also had 11 rebounds, nine assists, three steals and one block as the Cavs avoided elimination and evened the series at 3-3 before a sellout crowd of 20,562.

“Greatness. Championship pedigree,” Lue said of James. “We needed that, especially when Kevin went down. We had to play Bron as many minutes as he had to. He delivered. He was up for the challenge. He carried us home as usual. But a lot of other guys stepped up, too.”

Lue called on Jeff Green to replace Love on the court and join the other four starters — James, George Hill, J.R. Smith and Tristan Thompson.

“It’s the next man up and we have to do whatever it takes to win a game, and when he went down the next man had to step up,” said Green, who had 14 points, three rebounds, two assists and two blocks in 31 minutes.

As the game moved forward, Lue gave minutes to Larry Nance Jr., too.

Both Green and Nance played admirably in place of Love, who officially played five minutes and two seconds on Friday and had no points and four rebounds.

“You never want to see one of your guys go down, obviously,” said Nance, who tied his career playoff high with 10 points on 5-of-5 shooting from the field and a playoff career high seven rebounds and two steals in 22 minutes.

“Everyone is hoping Kev is all right. At the same time, it just requires other guys to step up. I think we certainly did that. ... It was a whole team effort.”

Green praised Nance giving “great energy off the bench” and being “a good spark.”

James, Green, Nance, Jordan Clarkson and Kyle Korver joined to lead the Cavs on a 20-4 run in the second quarter. The spurt turned a 30-24 deficit with 10:12 to go in the first half into a 44-34 lead with 5:00 left in the first half.

“Our guys that came off the bench — Jordan, Jeff, Kyle and Larry — they just gave us a huge boost in that second quarter,” James said. “That’s the reason why we outscored them by 16 [34-18] in that second quarter. It was just huge. We needed it obviously more than ever tonight with the situation that we were in.”

Green started the surge with a slam dunk and a free throw after being fouled. James scored nine points during the run, which also featured Korver winning a jump ball opposite Aron Baynes and Green blocking a layup attempt by Jaylen Brown.

“I was trying to time it just right,” Korver said. “No, I did not expect to win it but I just tried to get up there as quick as I could.

“I think we just played like the season was on the line. Guys were playing hard, scrambling all over the place and obviously LeBron, I’ve watched him play a lot of really great games, but that one’s right up there towards the top. That was a really special performance and we needed it. ... His performance was amazing and I’ve said this a thousand times but I’m glad he’s on my team.”

Michael Beaven can be reached at 330-996-3829 or mbeaven@thebeaconjournal.com. Read the Cavs blog at www.ohio.com/cavs.