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LeBron James' first-round streak lives as Cavaliers advance past Pacers

Cleveland CavaliersLeBron James, left, drives past Indiana PacersLance Stephenson in the first half of Game 7 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series, Sunday, April 29, 2018, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

Cramps sure weren’t going to stop LeBron James from getting to the second round of the Eastern Conference Playoffs.

Despite missing a little bit of time in the second half because of cramping, James scored 45 points and grabbed nine rebounds and seven assists as the Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Indiana Pacers 105-101 to advance to the second round.

James had some significant help though. And that help was also a big reason why Cleveland is moving on.

James was out at the beginning of the fourth quarter because of the cramps as Cleveland led the Pacers by two. Thanks to free throws by George Hill and two baskets by Kevin Love, the lead quickly stretched to nine without the best player in the world on the floor.

When LeBron returned — he played 43 of the game’s 48 minutes — Cleveland hung on. After Victor Oladipo cut the game to 100-96 with 50 seconds to go, a basket by James stretched the lead back to six and Indiana’s threat was extinguished.

James has become an impossibly high mountain for the Pacers in the playoffs. It’s the second-straight season James’ Cavaliers have upended the Pacers from the first round of the playoffs and the fifth time in seven seasons that Indiana has been eliminated from the playoffs by a team with James on it.

Cleveland will take on the Toronto Raptors in the conference semifinals. It’s the 13th time in 13 playoff appearances that James’ team has reached the second round.

Victor Oladipo scored 30 points and grabbed 12 rebounds for the Pacers while Darren Collison scored 23.

While Love and Hill were integral parts of the Cavaliers’ early-fourth quarter burst, Tristan Thompson was the team’s second-best player. Yes, that’s surprising. After playing a grand total of 23 minutes over the first six games of the series, Thompson started Sunday afternoon and played 35 minutes. He scored 15 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for his first double-double since Feb. 9.

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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.

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