CLEVELAND: Playing with LeBron James is generally better than playing against him.

Need proof?

Just ask Cavaliers teammates George Hill and Kyle Korver. Both players have been on talented teams in the past that ran into James in the NBA playoffs and lost.

These days, Hill and Korver are enjoying their roles as teammates of James as the Cavs prepare to meet the Boston Celtics in a Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals at 8:30 p.m. Sunday at the TD Garden in Boston.

James put together another memorable performance Friday night when the Cavs beat the Celtics 109-99 in Game 6 of the series before a sellout crowd of 20,562 at Quicken Loans Arena.

James had 46 points, 11 rebounds, nine assists, three steals and one block in 46 minutes as the Cavs avoided elimination and evened the series at 3-3.

“That guy amazes me every night, from the amount of minutes, the amount of years he got, the amount of fouls he gets on his body and guys he has hanging off his body,” said Hill, who previously squared off against James in the playoffs as a member of the Indiana Pacers.

“What he does night in, night out is something remarkable. That’s why he’s one of the best in the world if not the best. But it’s very special. I’m very fortunate and blessed to have him on our side this time. I’ve been in the league for some years and ran across him on the other side and really hated his guts. But to have him on our side, it kind of lets me take a deep breath of fresh air. It’s just something that you really can’t explain what he’s doing night in, night out. It’s just something special.”

Hill totaled 20 points, three rebounds, three assists, two steals and one block in 34 minutes on Friday.

Cavs reserves Jeff Green (14 points) and Larry Nance Jr. (10) also scored in double figures for the Cavs, and reserves Korver and Jordan Clarkson contributed in key moments with Kevin Love out because of a head-to-head collision about five minutes into the game with the Celtics forward Jayson Tatum.

The team announced Saturday that Love has been placed in the league’s concussion protocol and is out for Sunday’s Game 7.

“We as role guys have to step up and play,” Hill said. “It’s Game 7, it’s an elimination game. We can’t focus on what [James is] doing. He’s going to play his game. He’s going to do what he does. We have to take it upon ourselves, be ready to play from the jump ball and give it all we’ve got out there.”

The Celtics Twitter account sent out a tweet after Friday’s game that said: “It all comes down to this: Game 7 at the Garden, against the best player in the world, for all the marbles in the East.”

The “best player in the world” part of the tweet was referring to James, who will play his 100th game this season on Sunday — 82 in the regular season and 18 in the playoffs.

“As soon as I leave here, I’ll start to prepare,” James said Friday. “I’m going to get in the car and head back to Akron. As soon as I get home, I’ll start my treatment. I’ll do the same all day [Saturday] from before we leave to go to Boston, and then once we get into Boston I’ll do that as well. Try to get as much sleep as I can with [Friday] and with [Saturday] and even on Sunday before the game. That’s the best recovery that you can possibly get, is when you’re sleeping. It’ll be around-the-clock treatment, and we’ll see what happens.”

Korver, who faced James in the playoffs as a member of the Atlanta Hawks, lauded James for playing with “heart” as he scored eight points in the first quarter, 17 points in the second quarter, seven points in the third quarter, and 14 points in the fourth quarter.

James made three of his five 3-pointers in the second quarter. He displayed his versatility several times, including in the third quarter with a layup and then a block of a layup attempt by Celtics guard Terry Rozier, who took the ensuing inbounds pass and tried to go coast to coast.

And in the final three minutes of the fourth quarter, James found Nance cutting to the basket for a dunk at 2:57, swished a couple of step-back 3-pointers over Tatum with 2:23 to go and 1:40 remaining and dropped in an off-balance layup off glass over Celtics guard Jaylen Brown with 57.8 second left to give the Cavs a 109-96 lead.

“I mean, there’s something different about LeBron, period,” Nance Jr. said. “I think [Cavs coach] Ty [Lue] said it best. We’re going into a Game 7 with the baddest dude on the planet on our team. I like our chances.”

Celtics coach Brad Stevens agreed, and reiterated Friday night that he thinks James is the “best player in the game.”

“Special night tonight and special night in Game 4,” Stevens said of James. “I can’t say enough good things about him. ... [That was] great defense by Tatum, great shots by LeBron [in the fourth quarter]. Hats off. Tremendous. I thought the second wasn’t quite as contested maybe as the first one. The first one, that was ridiculous.”

LeBron’s numbers

• With his 46 points, James posted his seventh 40-point game of the 2018 NBA playoffs and tied Michael Jordan for the second most 40-point games in a single postseason, according to the Cavs public relations staff. Jordan had seven 40-point games in the 1989 playoffs. Jerry West is atop the list with eight 40-point games in the 1965 playoffs.

• James has notched 40 or more points and 10 or more rebounds in four playoff games when facing elimination. The only player with as many such playoff games is Wilt Chamberlain, according to NBA.com/Stats.

• James has averaged 34.1 points in 22 playoff games in which his team faced elimination. That is the top scoring mark among players who have played in at least five such games in NBA history, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. His teams are 13-9 in those 22 games. The other players in the top four are Jordan (31.3 points, 6-7 record), Kyrie Irving (31.2, 4-1) and Chamberlain (31.1, 12-11).

• In seven career Game 7s, James has averaged an NBA-record 34.9 points per game, according to ESPN. The other players in the top four, with a minimum of two Game 7s are Jordan (33.7 points, three games), Kevin Durant (33.0 points, three games) and Allen Iverson (32.5 points, two games).

• James has a 5-2 record in Game 7s, with victories in each of the past five Game 7s.

Toughness on boards

The Cavs finished with an edge in rebounds (44-31) and turnovers (13-9), despite Love being limited to 5:02 of action.

“It’s all about the fight, all about the toughness,” Nance said. “Every possession matters. Whether it’s after timeout, the first possession of the game or the first possession of the quarter. One play can change the whole game, and you’ve just got to be keyed in on all our coverages and all the plays we’re running. The playoffs is a different animal.

“I just thought we hit first. When the shot went up, we went to our man instead of letting him come to us. Anytime you’re more physical than the other team, you usually have the rebounding advantage.”

Of the Cavs’ 44 rebounds, 15 were offensive. The Celtics had just five offensive rebounds among their 31 total rebounds.

“Whenever we have extra shots and guys getting offensive rebounds it’s big for us,” Green said. “I mean, we kick it out and we have shooters, but also can attack and go back up. It’s big, extra possessions, and have to take advantage of it.”

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