Will The Cavs Step It Up?
The Boston Celtics gain a 3-2 lead over the Cavs.
On Wednesday, the Boston Celtics beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 96-83. The Boston Celtics defended their home-court, and extended their playoff home game winning streak to 10. If the series goes to Game 7, the game will take place in Boston. The Celtics have the advantage, but the Cavaliers are still not out of the series.
The Boston Celtics played a decent game in comparison to the Cavaliers' lackluster performance. The Cavaliers shot better than the Celtics, but the Celtics were better from the free-throw line. The Celtics shot a significant 28.1 percent better than the Cavaliers. The Celtics shot 91.3 percent from the free-throw line and the Cavs shot 63.2 percent. The overall percentage from the field was a different story. The Cavs shot 41.9 percent from the field in comparison to 36.5 percent from the Celtics. Both teams three-point percentages were slightly different. The Celtics shot 33.3 percent from the three-point line, and the Cavs shot 26.5 percent. One of their biggest differences was contributions from both teams.
The Celtics had five players score in double figures. Jayson Tatum led the Celtics with 24 points, 7 rebounds, and 4 steals. Jaylen Brown scored 17 points despite only shooting 26.7 percent. Al Horford had a double-double with 15 points and 12 rebounds. Marcus Morris and Marcus Smart had 13 points each. After an adjustment to the starting lineup, Marcus Morris came off the bench alongside Marcus Smart. Celtics coach Brad Stevens took Morris out of the starting lineup, and inserted Aron Baynes as the starting center. In the previous starting lineup, Marcus Morris was the power forward and Al Horford was the the center. Stevens moved Baynes to the center position, and put Al Horford at the power forward (Marcus Morris's starting position).
The Cavaliers were a different story. LeBron James was the leading scorer with 26 points. He also had 10 rebounds and 5 assists. However, he had 6 turnovers. James is averaging 5 turnovers in this series. In the first game of the series, he had an out of character 7 turnovers. He has struggled with turnovers in nearly every game of the series. His lowest amount of turnovers was in Game 3, where he had 3.But, James is averaging 30.8 points per game in this series. In Wednesday's game, James looked fatigued. The effects of the playoffs (this series specifically) is starting to take a toll on James. In fact, James's fatigue posed a (strange/random) question in my head. If you are a playoff bound team, do you prefer (playoff) experience or youth? Only four players of the 2016 NBA Champion Cavs team remain on the team. There are also a few Cavalier players who have playoff experience with other teams such as George Hill. The Boston Celtics are a young team with less playoff experience than the Cavs. The average age of the Boston Celtics is 25.7. Their youngest player (Jayson Tatum) is 20 years old. Their oldest player is Aron Baynes, who is 31. The youthful Celtics are out-pacing James and the Cavaliers. Personally, I would still take experience, but the question made me consider the options of experience or youth. It was something that came to mind, and I considered it.
Besides LeBron James, Kevin Love scored 14. James and Love were the only two Cavaliers to score in double figures. The remaining starters scored 10 points total. Jeff Green and Jordan Clarkson scored 8 points each(off the bench), but no bench player scored more than 8.
The Cleveland Cavaliers are down 2-3 in this series. The next game takes place in Cleveland. It is likely that the Cavs will win this game, but what will they do for Game 7? The Cavs cannot play like they did on Wednesday, and expect to win the series. LeBron James and Kevin Love cannot win the series themselves. Their Cavalier teammates must step up. Or if they do step up, they have to be consistent. They can't have a good Game 3, then disappear the next two games. The Cavs have their back against the wall. They still have what it takes to advance to the NBA finals, but it won't be easy. It is a must that the Cavalier starters and bench players step up in the next two games. But, are they up for the challenge? It is officially win or go home time. The Celtics are hungry and anxious to eliminate the Cavs and advance to the finals. However, if the Cavs play to their standards, they (the Cavaliers) still have a chance.