LeBron will need a stronger offensive performance if he is to force a Game 7 between his Cleveland Cavaliers and the Boston Celtics. The fans in Cleveland expect more from their two-time MVP who had a dismal performance at home in Game 5.
James scored just 15 points in a 120-88 blowout loss at home in which fans were stunned to see their star shoot only 3-14. The stunned looks on their faces mirrored James’. The Cavs defense didn’t help matters much, allowing a 16-0 run by the Celtics that allowed them to remain in control for the rest of the game.
Celtics coach Doc Rivers explained his defensive strategy that has allowed the Celtics to limit James’ production in the paint.
“We focused enough on him getting to the basket. I mean, my gosh, for [the first] three games he basically had a highway to the basket and our thought was, we’ve got to get bodies in front of him,” Rivers said. “He’s going to give us a great shot [Thursday]. We’re going to have to take it, withstand it and still win the game.”
Boston has allowed 92.4 points per game in the playoffs. Their average was over 95 points during the regular-season due to the absence of key players. Fans and media had written the big three of Boston off as too old to lead the Celtics to another NBA title. Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, and Paul Pierce have found the fountain of youth.
The Celtics had a hard time finding a groove during the regular-season due to key injuries to these players.
But now, the Celtics have their groove back.
“When we play well, it’s because of their experience,” Rivers said. “When we (stink) it’s because they’re too old. That’s basically how it’s been throughout and that, in some ways, may be true at times. But I would always lean on the experience side.”
Garnett has had an impressive post season after an average regular season by his standards. The All-Star forward averaged 14.3 points during the regular season, but has carved up the Cavalier defense in the post-season, scoring 18 points four times and 19 in Game 3. He has also been the team’s leader on the boards with 7.2 rebounds per game.
Celtic guard Rajon Rondo has been playing like a former champion during the post-season. In Game 4 Rondo went off for 29 points, 18 rebounds, and 13 assists. His performance prompted Lebron James to call for his defensive assignment to be Rondo.
With James’ focus on guarding Rondo, Boston’s big three had their best combined effort. They quickly took over the game from a Cavalier team that couldn’t look to Lebron for his usual 30 to 40 points.
Online Sportsbooks have the Celtics as a one-point favorite tonight to win Game 6 and take the series from the Cleveland Cavaliers. The over/under for Game 6 is set at 196.