It could be LeBron's final act in Cleveland

Cavaliers To Take Eastern Finals To Decider In Boston

The Boston Celtics pulled within one game of the NBA Finals by easing to victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers in game five of the Eastern Conference Finals.

The Celtics controlled the contest from start to finish and were not even at their best, although they closed out a comfortable win.

Jayson Tatum continued to enhance his reputation with a fine performance. He notched 24 points over the course of the match, netting three three-pointers at vital moments.

He did not have a great deal of support even though Boston were able to put the clamps on the Cavs at the other end of the court. Jaylen Brown and Terry Rozier were both inconsistent, while Aron Baynes missed a couple of easy openings under the rim.

However, compared to Cleveland, the Celtics’ problems were non-existent. Once again the Cavs failed to raise their game on the road other than LeBron James, who scored 26 points. However, even the 33-year-old was below-par, looking fatigued and disengaged on the court.

Reports have suggested that LeBron could leave the Cavs at the end of the term. Therefore he and his team-mates may only have 48 minutes of action remaining together on the court as a unit.

Cleveland have to put it all on the line at Quicken Loans Arena. Boston have had their issues on the road as well during the post-season, with only one win in seven matches.

A stellar outing on home soil from the Cavs is required to take the Eastern Finals into a deciding contest.

It could be LeBron's final act in Cleveland

Boston Celtics

Boston’s performance was a staple of their season. A sound defensive effort at one end of the court and pulling off enough skill with their shooting to put the game away. Brad Stevens has created perhaps the best defensive unit in the NBA. His side were able to limit the Cavaliers from distance, while LeBron was unable to maintain his level of excellence from game four.

Tatum led the way for the Celtics at both ends of the court, making vital blocks and steals in the defensive end. In the final third he attacked the rim with menace and was able to put up points on lay-ups and earn free-throws, sinking seven out of eight attempts.

Perhaps the best aspect of his outing was his shooting from distance, although he made only three of his seven three-pointers. The timing of those efforts was pivotal as they always seemed to come at the right moment to stymie a Cleveland resurgence. Tatum has elevated the standard of his play in the post-season much like the other young stars on the Celtics’ roster. His brilliance at both ends of the court could be the decisive factor for Stevens’ side.

Al Horford has been a model of consistency for the Celtics. His leadership has calmed the younger players around him, while he has been a force in and around the net, notching 15 points and 12 rebounds in game give. He needed to provide a decent foil to Tatum as Brown and Rozier had an off night from the field. The duo went a combined seven for 30 in their attempts at the rim.

Boston were still able to win with ease, highlighting the quality of their defensive performance. However, they will need Tatum, Horford, Brown and Rozier at the peak of their powers to defeat the Cavs on the road. They will be desperate to avoid a return to home soil where pressure could play a role in game seven.

Cleveland Cavaliers

The Cavaliers have been terrible on the road in the Eastern Finals. Their performances against the Toronto Raptors seem to have been a lifetime ago as they dispatched the number one seed in back-to-back matches on the road. However, they have not come close to defeating the Celtics at the TD Garden even with a couple of impressive performances from LeBron. The 33-year-old was off the pace in game five, although he still managed to score 26 points. In the second half, his exploits throughout the regular season and the playoffs appeared to be taking their toll.

LeBron’s body language was poor, while he did not display the ability to track back that he had earlier in the Eastern Finals. Tyronn Lue’s men have relied on the All-Star too much this term, especially in the post-season. He looks jaded, although the competitor within him will drive his team forward for one last great effort. Reports have linked him with a move away from Cavs at the end of the season. As a result, it could be his final game at Quicken Loans Arena as a Cleveland player.

To avoid that fate the rest of the Cavaliers’ line-up have to step up. Kevin Love, Kyle Korver, JR Smith, George Hill and Tristan Thompson have to rise to the occasion. They have been solid enough on home soil, although LeBron has still carried the scoring burden.

Korver and Love have had their moments, but have not been good enough to match those exploits on the road. Smith, Hill and Thompson nailed shots from distance at Quicken Loans Arena and need to find their form once again. Their play at the TD Garden has been detrimental to the club, putting immense pressure on LeBron. The supporting cast need to fire otherwise their season is over.

Breakdown

It’s win or bust for the Cavaliers. They have performed well at home against the Celtics, nailing their shots from distance and their free-throws. The pressure is on them to respond to take the Eastern Finals into a decider. There’s enough experience on the team to rise to the occasion, although LeBron will be the central figure once again. Lue was able to withdraw him from the fold to give the 33-year-old time to rest ahead of game six.

Whether it was enough to get LeBron back and firing to his peak form is another matter. The Celtics will come at the Cavs hard in order to get over the line, but LeBron may just have one more special performance up his sleeve to take the series back to Boston for the decider. Back Cleveland for the win at odds of -330   with TopBet, while take the Celtics to cover the +5.5 spread at +116   with 888Sport.

Tips Summary

Cleveland Cavaliers To Beat Boston Celtics Game Six
Friday 25th May 2018 20:30 ET (Saturday 26th May 2018 01:30 BST)
Odds: -330

Take Boston Celtics +5.5 Spread
Friday 25th May 2018 20:30 ET (Saturday 26th May 2018 01:30 BST)
Odds: +116

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