The Boston Celtics regained their form, rebounding from two straight losses to defeat the Cleveland Cavaliers 96-83 in game five of the Eastern Conference finals.
Boston regained the series lead 3-2 by jumping out to a 32-19 advantage after the first quarter. The Celtics rediscovered their tenacity on defense, forcing Cleveland to shoot just 42 per cent from the field on Wednesday.
Rookie Jayson Tatum led the Celtics with 24 points, seven rebounds, four assists, four steals and two blocks. Al Horford added 15 points and 12 rebounds while re-establishing his presence in the paint.
Jaylen Brown struggled to shoot, hitting just two of eight from three-point range, but the Celtics star finished with 17 points, contributing where and when needed.
LeBron James led the Cavaliers, flirting with a triple-double scoring 26 points with 10 rebounds and five assists, but once again received little help from his supporting cast.
It appeared the Cavaliers had cracked the Celtics’ hold on the series by winning games three and four, but Boston were in control from the first whistle Wednesday, proving the team is not ready to fade into the night.
Celtics reserve Marcus Smart scored 13 points on five-of-nine shooting with four assists and four rebounds in 23 minutes. Coming off the bench, Smart provided energy on both ends of the court, stifling the Cavs’ offense, while hitting some shots of his own.
HILL, SMITH BATTLE
Cavaliers starting guards George Hill and J.R. Smith were completely outclassed Wednesday. Hill scored just seven points on one-of-five shooting, while Smith added two points on one-of-six shooting. Neither has been able to find their form all series.
CELTICS’ IMPRESSIVE DEFENSE
Defense led to offense for the Celtics.
WARRIORS AT ROCKETS
Houston stole game four with a late rally, setting up a chance to fully utilise their home-court advantage. James Harden has been shaky at times throughout the playoffs, but he fought off Golden State’s pesky defense to give the Rockets a chance at snapping the Warriors’ reign out West. Golden State could be without Klay Thompson and Andre Iguodala, both ruled questionable for game five.