In a do or die Game 5, the Boston Celtics continued their homecourt mastery in a 96-83 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers. Boston now has a 3-2 lead as the series moves back to Cleveland for Game 6. The Celtics improved to 10-0 at home during the 2018 NBA Playoffs with the win.
Rookie forward Jayson Tatum came to play right from the jump and led the Celtics with 24 points, seven rebounds, four assists, four steals and two blocks. Tatum’s effort led a balanced Boston attack, as four other Celtics scored in double figures.
Fellow youngster Jaylen Brown added 17 points, while veteran Al Horford scored 15 and grabbed 12 rebounds. Terry Rozier struggled throughout most of the game, but came on late with eight points, six rebounds and six assists.
Brad Stevens tweaked his starting lineup, inserting Aron Baynes in place of Marcus Morris and Baynes delivered. He scored six points, grabbed seven rebounds and blocked three shots, while playing physical interior defense all game.
With Baynes in the starting lineup, Stevens also went with just a seven-man rotation for most of the game with Morris and Marcus Smart getting the minutes off the bench. Morris scored 13 points, while Smart had a good all-around effort with 13 points, four rebounds and four assists.
LeBron James didn’t look himself for most of the night for the Cavaliers, but still managed to score 26 points. He spent most of the game hunched over and took more breaks than usual, often at odd points in the game.
Kevin Love added 14 for Cleveland, who was held well below their playoff average in points and shot just 9-of-34 from behind the arc.
The three non-James/Love starters for the Cavs combined to score just 10 total points on 2-of-14 shooting.
The Celtics now have a chance to advance to the NBA Finals if they can take a Game 6 win in Cleveland on Friday night.