NBA Playoffs 2018: Celtics down Cavaliers in Game 5, move one win away from NBA Finals berth
The Celtics defense dominated the Cavs in Game 5, holding them to just 83 points
The Celtics are now one win away from the NBA Finals. Boston takes care of business at home in Game 5, knocking off the Cavaliers with a 96-83 victory. This was one of their best performances of the playoffs. Their defense swallowed the Cavaliers whole and forced everybody not named LeBron James to struggle putting up points. Cleveland did make a strong push late, but the Cavs couldn't close the gap.
James looked tired at times Wednesday night yet still scored a game-high 26 points. It just wasn't enough with the rest of his supporting cast struggling to put up points. The Celtics, on the other hand, got a big 24 points out of Jayson Tatum. Al Horford took over in the fourth quarter and finished with 15 points. Everything went Boston's way late in the game.
The Celtics have to go back to Cleveland at least once, but if they can't close it out in Game 6 then they'll have a chance to do so in Game 7. That's a huge advantage for Boston because the Celtics have yet to lose a game at home in the playoffs.
Game 5: Celtics 96, Cavs 83
There was a time during Game 5 where it felt like the game was going to be a close contest. The Cavs came out with a lot of fight and, despite being down early, were responding well to adversity. At one point they got in a literal fight when Marcus Morris had a hard foul on Larry Nance Jr.
However, the game just got too out of hand for the Cavs to contain Boston. The Celtics not only played great defense, but they took advantage of opportunities on offense -- especially in transition. Jayson Tatum found Aron Baynes early on for a dunk and that was a great indicator of how the rest of the game was going to go.
Another good indicator was Marcus Smart. He made three shots from deep and had 13 points despite only shooting 30 percent from distance all season. When players like that start making deep looks there just isn't much a defense can do about it.
The dagger, though, came from Horford. The Cavs opted not to play Tristan Thompson in the closing moments and it bit them hard. Horford unleashed himself and threw down a monster dunk in transition to put the game out of reach for Cleveland.
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