Boston Celtics at Cleveland Cavaliers
Where: Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland
CLEVELAND – The Boston Celtics are one win away from reaching the NBA Finals for the first time since 2010 when they visit the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday. The Celtics possess a 3-2 lead in the Eastern Conference finals but are just 1-6 on the road this postseason, including two setbacks in Cleveland.
Cavaliers forward LeBron James could be playing in his final game in Cleveland before his expected dive into free agency but he is currently focused on earning one more trip to Boston. “We’re looking forward to having an opportunity to force a Game 7,” James told reporters after his squad’s 96-83 loss in Wednesday’s Game 5. “It’s up to us to see if we can come back here for one more.” Boston continues to persevere behind its young roster but it will have to step up if it is to close the series on the Cavaliers’ home floor. “Now we have a big challenge to go on the road,” Boston veteran big man Al Horford told reporters. “We’re going to have to play a great game come Friday because they’re tough at home. At least in our series, they’ve had their way.”
TV: 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
ABOUT THE CELTICS: Small forward Jayson Tatum scored 24 points in Game 5 for his ninth 20-point outing of the postseason. The 20-year-old is putting together one of the best scoring playoff runs by a rookie in NBA history with 312 points and he trails only Elgin Baylor (331), Alvan Adams (341) and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (352). “It’s just been a lot of fun,” Tatum told reporters. “I’ve just been enjoying it, the level of play, the atmosphere. The playoffs bring the best out of people and out of players, and hopefully we keep it going. … We’re one win away from going to the Finals. ”
ABOUT THE CAVALIERS: James had 26 points, 10 rebounds and five assists while going 11-of-22 shooting in Game 5 and he downplayed interrogating questions about his level of fatigue. “I had my moments, but I think everybody at this point is tired, worn down whatever the case may be,” James told reporters. “I was still trying to make plays, put our team in position to win.” James topped 40 points twice in this series and six times in the postseason and has at times single-handedly kept his team afloat.
1. Boston PG Marcus Smart had a series-best 13 points on 5-of-9 shooting in Game 5 after just 11-of-38 shooting over the first four contests.
2. Cleveland SG JR Smith is averaging just 5.2 points on 9-of-39 shooting in the series.
3. Horford had 15 points and 12 rebounds in Game 5 for his second double-double of the series and seventh of the postseason.