Celtics clamp down on Cavs, take 3-2 series edge

LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers reacts in the second half against the Boston Celtics during Game Five of the 2018 NBA Eastern Conference Finals at TD Garden

The Cavs are in a risky spot.

The Celtics improved to 10-0 at home this post-season, and Tatum said there's no reason they can't wrap up the series on Friday, even though so far the home team has won every game in the series. If that comes to pass, the true challenge will be finding a way to buck the trend of the series and get a win when they head back to Boston for Game 7.

If the Celtics can ride the synergy of their bigger starting lineup to a victory in one of the next two games, they'll be headed to the NBA Finals. It means James' streak of seven straight Finals is on the line, and it's time to talk again about how this Game 6 against the Celtics Friday could be his last in a Cleveland uniform at The Q. "So I've just got to fight through it [and] keep my composure".

One sign of that fatigue was a play in the opening minutes of the third quarter when James, finding himself on the perimeter in a favorable matchup against Aron Baynes, was able to easily blow by the Celtics center. I know it's coming.

Tatum's scoring average has dropped to 15.5 PPG through four contests against the Cavs, but James has already seen enough to be convinced that his counterpart has greatness in his future. He functioned as a dutiful screen setter and chipped in 6 points and 2 offensive rebounds for good measure.

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"We've got to be focused, composed and play with a lot of poise and we'll be fine", he said, clearly up for the challenge. The Truth says that while Tatum has looked unflappable in postseason play, he thought the pressure of the playoffs became too overwhelming for someone like Ben Simmons. He's been Boston's top shot creator on isolation plays, and continues to add new moves to do his work inside the paint, or to wiggle free beyond the arc.

The Cavs, on the other hand, are counting on James to rebound. But Tatum came through with an exhibition of his superb all-around skill in Game 5.

He didn't have his usual burst. Thank God, we're going home next, and hopefully, we'll play better and force a Game 7. His teammates are draining him.

The Celtics know how much more comfortable they would be closing out at home, but James in a game seven is a different monster. The Cavs are averaging 113.5 points per game at home this series with James making 62.5 percent of his shots. Solid, but sub-par by his standards and he committed six turnovers and missed some makeable layups. Their three other starters - George Hill, J.R. Smith and Tristan Thompson - scored just 10 points on 2-for-14 shooting. James finished the game with 26 points on 50.0 percent shooting from the field, but the Cavs needed more than that to steal this road game.

Down three games to two, with a must-win Game 6 set for 8:30 p.m.

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