Going into game 5, the Celtics were 9-0 at home in the playoffs but there was some doubt whether the Cavs, who looked very good in the past 2 games at home, could keep their momentum going on the road. The beginning of the 1st quarter started back and forth with Kevin Love (24 points, 7 rebounds) getting established in the offense early. However, the Celtics got on a 18-5 run near the end of the quarter and were for 6-13 from beyond the arc. Jayson Tatum (24 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists) was in the center of this run, scoring 9 first quarter points. The Cavs have struggled with turnovers the entire year and it came back to haunt them in Game 5. They committed 5 turnovers in the first quarter alone, which gave the Celtics the early 32-19 lead. The Cavs were not able to recover from this early lead throughout the game with little help outside of Kevin Love and Lebron James scoring 18 of the first 19 points for the Cavs.
Things got chippy to start the 2nd quarter as Marcus Morris (13 points, 3-6 3PT FG) got into a pushing exchange with Larry Nance Jr. (2 points, 6 rebounds). This temporarily invigorated Lance Jr as he responded with a couple of rebounds and a block on Jaylen Brown (17 points, 3 rebounds). The Cavs were able to get some ball movement going and went on a 12-3 run around 8:37 in the 2nd quarter. In fact, the first 12 of the 13 points in the 2nd quarter were by Cavs players not named Lebron or Love. The Celtics got cold from the field, highlighted by Terry Rozier (8 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists), as he started the 1st half going 1-7. The Celtics were able to recover from this run with a couple made 3’s. Marcus Morris had started the game making his first three 3 pointers. By the end of the half, the Celtics had made 9-22 3 PT FG.
Starting the 3rd quarter, it was again Kevin Love and Lebron James only scoring for the Cavs until the middle of the quarter. The backcourt had been non-existent until both JR Smith and George Hill got a basket with 6:30 left. Lebron was clearly showing signs of fatigue and even started the quarter with 2 turnovers. Tatum was then able to impose his presence in the game with his ability to score off isolation plays and driving to the basket. He created key turnovers to stop signs of the Cavs making a run. The Cavs had 5 turnovers in the 3rd quarter.
The Celtics were building on their lead to begin the 4th quarter as it climbed to 21 points. Celtics had been 34-1 all season when getting at least a 15-point lead in the game. However, the Cavs got a little spurt with a 9-0 run to close the gap to 83-71 with 7:49 left. They made an adjustment in starting to double team Horford (15 points, 12 rebounds) when he received the ball and even committed 2 consecutive turnovers. Horford redeemed himself later in the quarter with a 3 around 3:45 to put the lead back to 17 and the Celtics did not look back. Celtics would end the game 96-83 having made 14 3 PT FG’s.
Celtics are now 10-0 at home in the playoffs with great all-around defense. They got a total of 10 steals and converted to score 18 fast break points. Celtics will go into game 6 on Friday with a 3-2 lead. However, they have not played well on the road in the playoffs, as they have gone 1-6. The Cavs will look to rebound as they have only lost 1 game at home. One stat to keep in mind to hold back on this stat is that Lebron James is only 12-9 overall in elimination games. But the question remains, who else will help Lebron and Kevin Love on the offensive side? Tryonn Lue may need to play Kyle Korver more minutes as at times, he has been the 3rd best player on the Cavs. For the Celtics, the goal will be to contain the Cavs on the perimeter because if the Cavs start making 3 PT FG’s, the Cavs will be able to space the floor and may be too much for the Celtics on the defensive side.