"King James" had the last laugh, though, guiding the Cavaliers to an 87-79 victory Sunday at TD Garden in Boston. The win puts James in the finals for the eighth consecutive season.
Tatum's dunk came with about 6:45 remaining in the game. The Celtics rookie caught the ball beyond the 3-point arc. He then penetrated into the paint before leaving his feet. James slid to his left, underneath the rim to contend Tatum's shot. But the rookie picked up the ball in his right hand and threw a dunk down on the four-time NBA MVP.
After making the dunk, Tatum turned, bumped James and screamed in his face.
"I had to get him back for the two shots he hit on me in Cleveland. I meant no disrespect by it," Tatum told reporters.
The shot helped the Celtics close the gap on the Cavaliers, but they still trailed 71-69.
"With Jayson, I just love everything about the kid," James said. "The way he plays the game, his demeanor, where he comes from. I know his parents and I just know he is just built for stardom. He's built for success on and off the floor."
James scored a game-high 35 points, and had 15 rebounds and nine assists in the win. Tatum posted 24 points and seven rebounds for the Celtics.