Here are five things you need to know before tip-off of Game 5 between the Celtics and Cavaliers Thursday night at TD Garden:
Kyrie Irving is feeling it. LeBron James was sent to the bench in the second quarter of Game 4, but Irving never missed a step. Despite an ankle tweak, he went on to score 42 points and dish out four assists. Avery Bradley did as well as he could on Irving, but Game 5 is going to be about the Celtics rotation on the backend of the defense to help alleviate the pressure of the one-on-one defense.
Celtics ball movement is there, and the scoring will come. There is no doubt about it that the Celtics ball movement makes them one of the most difficult teams to guard, but there needs to be an intent to score the ball. In the 111-108 Game 3 win, the Celtics had 28 assists and in the Game 5 loss they tallied 26. It’s not about making the extra passes as it is now about finishing and converting on each possession in Game 6.
Marcus Smart and Al Horford are the game changers. Despite going 1-for-9 in Game 4, Smart was coming off a 27-point performance in Game 3. Recall Games 5 and 7 of the Wizards series. The Celtics were successful because of Smart’s all-around solid performances and padding of the stat sheets. In Game 5 he scored nine points, grabbed 11 rebounds and gave out six assists while in Game 7 he went for 13 points, six rebounds and four assists. Horford’s 16-point performance in Game 5 was a quiet one, but if he can to the paint and use his stepback fadeaway shot, he will be difficult to stop.
Amir Johnson and Jae Crowder are probable while Jaylen Brown is questionable. Johnson, who didn’t play in Game 4, is listed as probable for Thursday evening, but Crowder, who hit the ground after an uncomfortable fall in Game 4, joins him on that list. Crowder had a solid outing in Game 4 with 18 points and eight rebounds while shooting 4-of-7 from three-point range. Brown also looked uncomfortable at the end of the third quarter after a strong take to the basket and taking a moment on the baseline before getting up. He remains questionable for Game 5 with a hip pointer.
The Celtics are HOME. In the last home appearance of the series, the crowd was vocal with its disappointment in the Celtics performance. Bradley’s game-winning three-pointer with 1/10 of a second left on the clock in Game 3 kept the series alive for another game in Boston. The crowd will be vocal and on edge to push the Celtics one game closer to even the series.
Full article @ 5 Things to know heading into Celtics do-or-die Game 5
Source: GreenStreet Blog