The Cavaliers travel to Boston for Game 5 against the Celtics on Wednesday night as the two squads compete for a series lead in the Eastern Conference Finals. Tipoff from TD Garden is at 8:30 p.m. (ET).
After falling to the Celtics in the first two games of the ECF, the Wine & Gold rebounded with two straight home wins, including their, 111-102, win over the Celtics in Game 4 on Monday. With that victory, the Cavs have now extended their home winning streak to seven games.
In Monday’s win, the Wine & Gold shot .506 (41-81) from the field, which was their fourth game this postseason with a .500-plus clip (4-0). In the first half, the Cavs connected on 24-of-39 (.615) shots and scored 68 points, which was their highest scoring half of the 2018 Playoffs.
Through the first four contests of this series, the Cavs’ defense has held the Celtics to a combined .439 shooting from the field (.324 3FG%). In Games 3 & 4, Cleveland allowed an average of 94.0 points (.403 FG%, .300 3FG%) and outrebounded Boston by 10.5 boards (46.0-35.5). During the Game 4 win on Monday night, the Cavaliers also set a 2018 Playoff-high with eight blocks.
From an individual perspective, there were a number of excellent performances to go around, but it was LeBron James who, once again, stole the show.
In fact, James recorded a game-high 44 points (17-28 FG) in Game 4, his sixth 40-point outing in this year’s playoffs. The last NBA player with that many 40-point performances in a single postseason was Allen Iverson (six) in 2001. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, only Jerry West (eight in 1965) and Michael Jordan (seven in 1989) have tallied more 40-point games in one playoffs.
James also passed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (2,356 FGM) as the NBA’s all-time playoff leader in field goals made with his sixth field goal in the Game 4 victory.
LBJ wasn’t the only one who contributed to the well-rounded victory. Tristan Thompson, for instance, contributed his third double-double of the 2018 Playoffs (17th of postseason career) with 13 points (6-10 FG), a game-high 12 rebounds, two assists, one steal and two blocks in 38 minutes during Game 4.
Coming off the bench, Kyle Korver lit The Q up after tying his playoff career-high with three blocks, while adding 14 points (4-7 FG, 2-5 3FG, 4-4 FT) and four rebounds in 25 minutes as a reserve in Game 4. Over the last eight contests (since May 1), Korver is averaging 12.8 points on .581 (36-62) shooting from the field, including .523 (23-44) from three-point territory, and 2.8 rebounds in 27.0 minutes.
Looking ahead to Game 5, the Wine & Gold would love to see the same consistent efforts that came out of Games 3 & 4. They do, at least, have history on their side where they’re 5-2 in Game 5s (since 2015). If they win this series, then the Cavs will overcome an 0-2 deficit for the third time in franchise history (2007 ECF vs. DET, 2016 Finals vs. GSW).
The Celtics will look to regain momentum they earned in the first two games as the series shifts back to Beantown.
In order to do so, they’ll need their reserves to step up and not leave the pressure solely on the starting five. In Game 4, while all five Celtics starters scored in double digits, only three bench players were able to find the bottom of the hoop.
Boston’s silver lining, though, came from starting shooting guard Jaylen Brown, who notched a team-high 25 points and six rebounds on Monday night. Terry Rozier helped out too, knocking down three treys in adding 16 points.
Where to Catch the Action
FOX Sports Ohio: Before and after all Cavs playoffs games, FOX Sports Ohio will provide pre- and postgame coverage hosted by Jeff Phelps and Campy Russell that will include reporting and analysis from Fred McLeod, Austin Carr and Allie Clifton, with guest appearances from former Cavs coach Mike Fratello.
Radio: WTAM 1100, 87.7 La Mega
For Wine & Gold fans, the all-important Game 5 can’t come soon enough. However, in order to burn some time, here are some interesting milestones that could be passed come Wednesday night.
From a league perspective, LeBron James (2,052 REB) can pass Karl Malone (2,062 REB) with 11 more rebounds for sixth-most in NBA postseason history. James (225 BLK) can also move into sole possession of 15th place in career playoff blocks with one swat on Wednesday, passing Rasheed Wallace and Robert Horry (both w/225 BLK). K
Kyle Korver (231 3FGM), on the other hand, is just six three-pointers away from passing Jason Kidd (236 3FGM) for the 14th-most in NBA postseason play.
From a franchise perspective, Kevin Love (281 FGM) needs three more field goals to pass Larry Nance Sr. (283 FGM) for fourth place in field goals made in franchise playoff history.
With an appearance on Wednesday, Tristan Thompson (71 GP) can pass Zydrunas Ilgauskas (71 GP) and Anderson Varejao (71 GP) for the third-most playoff games played in Cavs history.
Thompson (558 PTS, 206 FGM) is also closing in on passing John ‘Hot Rod’ Williams (559 PTS, 206 FGM) for ninth place on the Cavs all-time postseason scoring and field goals made lists.
Following Game 5, the Cavs and Celtics will head back to The Land on Friday for a Game 6 showdown at The Q. Tipoff time is set for 8:30 p.m. and will be televised on ESPN. If necessary, Game 7 will move to TD Garden on Sunday, May 27 at 8:30 p.m. That game will also take place on ESPN.