Tatum has to fire in game five

Celtics To Regain Upper Hand In Eastern Finals

LeBron James inspired the Cleveland Cavaliers to level the Eastern Conference Finals against the Boston Celtics. The 32-year-old was at the peak of his powers at Quicken Loans Arena, scoring 44 points to guide his side to a nine-point victory.

Cleveland made a fast start to the contest and held a 19-point lead at times in the second quarter. The Celtics were able to rally in the second half to draw within seven points, although underwhelming performances from Marcus Morris and Marcus Smart put them under pressure.

LeBron received support throughout the night from his team-mates as Kyle Korver, JR Smith and George Hill all had their moments from distance. It allowed the 32-year-old to pick his moments and draw single coverage against Terry Rozier to dominate in the paint.

Brad Stevens’ men were unable to find answer to the forward’s presence in the final third. They improved towards the end of the game, but will have to find an improvement to regain their advantage at the TD Garden.

Both sides have capitalised on their home-field advantage which has played a crucial role in the post-season. To advance the Cavs will have to win at least one game on the road. As a result, the contest at the TD Garden is huge for their hopes of reaching the Finals for the fourth year on the bounce.

The Cavaliers found their rhythm, but unless LeBron is supported once again, Boston will once again be intent on putting the strain back on the forward and his team-mates for game six.

Tatum has to fire in game five

Boston Celtics

The Celtics put themselves in a hole in the first quarter for the second game on the bounce. Their 16-point deficit would cost Stevens’ men as they did outscore the home side in the remaining three quarters. Their early struggles in both matches on the road have been due to sluggish defensive play and tentative shooting in the final third.

Jayson Tatum has been on form throughout the post-season, giving the Celtics tremendous production despite being a rookie. However, game four was a poor one for the 20-year-old as he took too long to find his stride, scoring only six points in the first half. He began to find his rhythm in the second period, collating 11 further points, but it was not enough to close the gap.

Tatum was not the only key player from the Celtics to misfire. Jaylen Brown has been their star of the playoffs and he has scored over 20 points in three of the four matches. He had early issues against Kyle Korver – a player not renowned for his defensive play. Brown found life in the fourth quarter to rally Boston, but once again his efforts came too late for Stevens’ men. Both Brown and Tatum have been thrust into the spotlight to provide the Celtics’ surge in the absences of Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward. They have to be flawless in game five and rest of the series to see the club through to the Finals.

Smart and Morris were anchors dragging the Celtics down in the first half of the contest. Boston cannot afford to have experienced players adding to the burden of their youthful stars. Smart improved late in the game to make key defensive plays. He has to match that level in game five as his side cannot afford to let LeBron dictate the match as he did last time out.

Cleveland Cavaliers

LeBron was imperious at Quicken Loans Arena, dominating the Celtics throughout the contest. The 32-year-old raised the level of his game when his team needed him the most. He used his size and skill to break through Boston’s defenses at will in the opening half, and was operating at 75% accuracy from the field for the majority of the game. His 44 point-performance was the difference between the two sides. Even a 30-point outing could have put the Cavs in jeopardy, highlighting their reliance on him.

He will have to be even better on the road to edge his side towards the Finals given the struggles of the rest of the line-up in the opening two matches of the series. LeBron played 41 minutes and scored more points than his time in minutes on the course. Tyronn Lue will have concerns over whether LeBron can hold up for the rest of the post-season if he has to continue to spend over 40 minutes on the court.

Korver has been an important player for the Cavs during the series. His accuracy from range has been outstanding, he nailed 57.1% of his shots from the field, notching 14 points in the process. Defensively he was stout to limit Brown in the early stages of the game. Those effort plays could be the difference between the victory and defeat come the end of series. Thompson was also active at both ends of the court.

The center made a number of defensive stops, while contributing 13 points to the cause. As long as the Cavs keep receiving contributions from their support players to ease the strain on LeBron they have a great chance of advancing. The problems have come on the road where they’ve lacked energy. The other four men on the court have to provide the energy and accuracy to overcome the Celtics at the TD Garden.

Breakdown

The Celtics need a response to their defeat in game four and will have home advantage. LeBron alone could win the game for the Cavs, but he still needs a semblance of support. Boston will have taken heart from the fightback late in the match to at least put Cleveland under pressure. Brown, Tatum and Rozier will be ready from the off to feed off the energy inside the TD Garden.

Should they get going and only LeBron provides resistance – it could be yet another one-sided contest. The Celtics improved in the second half in game four and expect them to build off that momentum to secure the victory at odds of -112   with BetOnline, while take them on a -3.5 spread at odds of +138   with 888Sport.

Tips Summary

Boston Celtics To Beat Cleveland Cavaliers Game Five
Wednesday 23rd May 2018 20:30 ET (Thursday 24th May 01:30 BST)
Odds: -112

Take -3.5 Spread Boston Celtics
Wednesday 23rd May 2018 20:30 ET (Thursday 24th May 01:30 BST)
Odds: +138

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