Eastern Conference Finals: Celtics Go Up 3-2
Wednesday night saw the TD Garden play host to its 11th NBA playoff game of the 2018 season where the Boston Celtics kept their perfect home playoff record intact with a 96-83 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers. Five players scored at least 13 points for Boston, who made 13 of their three-pointers versus nine for Cleveland. In addition, Boston went 21 for 23 from the charity stripe while Cleveland was just 12 for 19. The win pushed the Cavs to the brink of elimination, a familiar sight to the Celtics as they hold a 3-2 to lead and have a chance to eliminate a LeBron James led team.
The problem for the Celtics is they have been just as bad on the road as they are good at home and as Al Horford said last night after the game, he thinks it’s the fans in Boston that really give them the energy it takes to beat the Cavs. Unfortunately for Horford and the Celtics, the Boston faithful will not take over the Quicken Loans Arena this Friday night. It’s interesting to note that Boston went 27-14 at home this year in the regular season and was 28-13 on the road, third best behind Houston and Golden State. But, since that regular season success has not translated in the playoffs, I fully expect to see a Game 7 at the TD Garden in Boston on Sunday and think how this would be a fitting way for LeBron to break the hearts of Celtic fans. You may remember Game 6 of the 2012 Eastern Conference finals where down 3-2, LeBron had an epic 45-point performance with the Miami Heat. The Heat went on to win Game 7 and then won the Finals over Oklahoma City.
This series has also yet to have a truly competitive game. Cleveland’s nine-point win in Game 4 was the smallest margin of victory and honestly, that game was not ever in serious doubt. Is it the style of play that has resulted in these outcomes? You have the team-oriented Celtics, as evidenced by their balanced scoring, versus the one-man band of LeBron? We see what is obvious: when the Celtics work the ball, especially through Horford, they win. When LeBron’s backups wake up (Kevin Love, JR Smith, Kyle Korver, Tristan Thompson), the Cavs seize control. Fans are clamoring for an exciting contest with the lead changing hands and clutch performances by the stars. It would be compelling to see LeBron hoist up a game-winner at home in Game 6 as he’s done in both of the previous series. Then we can have one of those historic Game 7’s in Boston which is a tradition in the city’s basketball culture. There will be heroes and goats as the series winds down to its conclusion. Let’s see if it can be something that leaves people wanting more in the NBA Finals.
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