There will be at least one more basketball game in Boston this season. It might even come in the Finals.
The Celtics guaranteed that much on Wednesday night with another dominating effort at home in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals to take a 3-2 series lead with a 96-83 victory.
The Celtics swarmed LeBron James into a rare display of fatigue and never let him embark on the game-changing run that makes him dominant, abandoning the defensive approach that left James consistently singled up on guard Terry Rozier.
The game-changing plays came from the youngest Celtics. Rookie Jayson Tatum attacked the rim relentlessly and delivered a team-high 24 points. Second-year man Jaylen Brown added 17 as the C’s continued the trend of home team domination and stayed perfect in the Garden this postseason at 10-0.
They’ll have a chance to close out the series on Friday in Cleveland and reach their first NBA Finals since Kobe Bryant and the Lakers beat them in seven games in 2010.
“To do what we want to do, we still have to beat this team one more time,” said Celtics coach Brad Stevens. “It’s hard to win a game in the NBA. It takes a ton of preparation, takes a ton of focus, takes a ton of effort. That’s the task.”
Anything that ailed the Celtics in Cleveland, when they lost two games without ever seriously challenging, was cured in front of a raucous home crowd that finished the night chanting, “Celts in six!” Other than Rozier, who missed 12 straight shots at one point, the Celtics looked like a different team.
Al Horford once again struggled to find shots, but still finished with a double-double of 15 points and 12 rebounds, his late 3-pointer giving the Celtics a 17-point lead and sealing the victory. Center Aron Baynes was a stout defensive presence, drawing a charge on an attempted highlight reel dunk from Larry Nance Jr. Marcuses Morris and Smart each scored 13.
Stevens didn’t mess around, either. He limited his rotation to his top seven players until 2:36 remained. That meant no Semi Ojeleye, Guerschon Yabusele, or Greg Monroe.
The Cavs, meanwhile, got less than zero from the supporting cast. All-Stars James and Kevin Love combined to shoot nearly 50 percent from the field, but Tristan Thompson was limited to one point, Kyle Korver shot just 2-for-6, and George Hill (7 points) continued being useless in Boston.
After losing two straight at the Q, the Celtics burst out of the gates with purpose en route to a 32-19 lead after one quarter. The lead ballooned to 21 in the second half and the Celtics maintained control from there despite shooting only 36.5 percent from the floor.
The biggest baskets belonged to Tatum, whose unflappability continues to impress. He added seven rebounds and four assists while playing outstanding defense with four steals and two blocks.
Full article @ Celtics 96, Cavaliers 83: ‘Celts in 6!’ delirious fans chant, just one win from NBA Finals
Source: GreenStreet Blog