Cleveland Cavaliers 83 - 96 Boston Celtics
The Celtics dominate game 5. Jayson Tatum came to play tonight, as Lebron had an off night. It was the same news with the Cavaliers, as the role players failed to appear on the road. The Celtics exploited the defensive holes and took an early lead and never looked back. Game 6 will be in Cleveland on Friday.
Same Old Cavs
New day, same issues for the Cavaliers on the road. After looking like they got it back together at home, on the road is still a weak spot for this team. Something just clicks the second they leave Cleveland air space and they forget how to play. Even Lebron had an off night, going 1-6 from deep, he finished with 26 points, 10 boards and 6 turnovers. Kevin Love was the only other Cav to score in double figures, chipping in 14.
Putting themselves in a 13 point hole after the first, the Cavs could just never get back into it. The Celtics just never slowed down on defense, taking the ball away 15 times, converting to easy buckets. The Cavs just couldn’t get out of their own way offensively. Missing shots and just handing the ball over to the Celtics, it just seemed that if Lebron has a bad game the rest of the team will quit. Never pulling back within striking distance, the Cavs conceded and pulled Lebron with minutes left in the fourth.
Lazy defense and turnovers killed the Cavs tonight. There was little Lue could do once the team decided they weren’t going to play at 100% tonight. Some of that has to fall on their leader, Lebron. He looked tired and they guys took that and threw in the towel.
Uncharacteristically of Lebron, he actually looked mortal out there. Hands on hips, and taking deep breaths with his mouthpiece hanging out, he was tired. Carrying this team is starting to take its toll on Lebron. Only getting 10 points from the rest of the starters, excluding Love, he can’t keep putting 40 up. Someone else is gonna have to match him if the Cavs have any hope.
Celtics led by Tatum
10 and 0 at home in the playoffs, even with their worst shooting night in the postseason, the Celtics have the magic touch at home. Jayson Tatum has himself a night, dropping 24 points, 7 boards and 4 assists. He also was everywhere defensively, with 4 steals and 2 blocks. If I was just watching the game and had no knowledge of who anyone was, I would have no idea he is still a rookie. Showing poise and knowledge of the game, he was kryptonite to the Cavs. From locking Lebron down early, to slicing them up with threes and magnificent passing late, he was the best player on the court tonight.
He wasn’t the only Celtic to show up, Jaylen Brown added 17 while 3 other Celtics were in double figures. Terry Rozier added to the steal parade with 3 while Baynes had 3 blocks. It was a team effort, even with the short rotation I brought into question after the last game. Playing hard team defense, the Celtics just shut the Cavaliers defense down. Short of Lebron just muscling his way for buckets, they gave very few open looks. Stevens deserves credit for dialing his guys in.
After the huge 1st quarter, the Celtics just kept rolling. Getting turnovers in key moments to get easy, back breaking points. Never letting the Cavs within striking distance, it was a great defensive performance, but it was aided by the Cavs lack of energy. By the fourth, the game was decided and the Celtics were still playing hard. It’s a great sign that they are confident going to Cleveland for game 6.
This was a huge win for the Celtics, but even more important, Jayson Tatum looks like an All-Star. He is going head to head with Lebron and not backing down. Even with Hayward coming back next season, you may just want to start Tatum and Brown. It must be nice having to figure out which All-Star caliber player you want to start.