The future suddenly looks bleak for LeBron James and his Cleveland Cavaliers as they were blown out at home in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference seond round game 120-88. The Boston Celtics showed their playoff experience with an impressive win on the road that saw all five of their starters in double figures.
In true star fashion, Paul Pierce set the tone for the Celtics with 21 points, 11 rebounds, 7 assists, and 2 steals. The Boston captain benefited from having his counterparts healthy as the Cavaliers were too busy defending Ray Allen beyond the arc, and Kevin Garnett in the post.
“That’s the beauty of our team,’’ said Pierce. “It makes us so dangerous. When you look at Cleveland, you know you’ve got to stop LeBron. With us, we’ve got four or five guys who can lead us in scoring. You never know where it’s going to come from and that’s what makes us so dangerous — different guys stepping up different nights.
Ray Allen led all scorers with 25 points, shooting 6-9 from three point range, and adding 4 assists. Garnett was a solid presence down low with a solid 21 point performance shooting 42 percent from the floor. After the game, Garnett expressed his desire not to return to Cleveland again this season.
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“We cannot come back here,” Garnett said. “We have to think this is our Game 7 coming up and we cannot afford to have the best team in the league have a Game 7 on their floor. Just not possible.”
If they are to force that critical Game 7, the Cavaliers will need a better performance from their star forward LeBron James. Voted the NBA’s MVP this season, LeBron looked anything but valuable shooting 3-14 from the field and shooting 0-4 from three-point land.
“I missed a lot of open shots that I normally make,” a stone faced LeBron said after the game. “You don’t see that out of me a lot so when it happens, it’s a big surprise.”
The Game 5 defeat might have been LeBron’s last home game in a Cavalier uniform. James’ is a free agent at the end of the season, and chances are he will look to seek a new place of employment. The Cavaliers star would not speculate on whether or not he would leave.
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“I didn’t even think about that. Me sitting up here and saying this is potentially our last game here this season, that wouldn’t be me and that wouldn’t be our team.”
The James/Rondo match up fans were eagerly awaiting was disappointing. Rondo had a poor shooting night as well as James, and didn’t score his first points until there was 9:47 left in the third quarter. By then the Celtics had a commanding double digit lead, and James was doing little to bring his team back from the brink of elimination.
Onilne Sportsbooks have the Cavalier’s chances at winning the Eastern Conference Finals at 3/1, and the Celtic’s at 7/2. If the Cavaliers are to prove they are worthy of returning to the Eastern Conference Finals, they will need a dominating performance from the league MVP Lebron James.