Published: Sat, May 26, 2018
Sports | By Brett Lawson

Jayson Tatum has scored more playoff points than any rookie since 1976

Jayson Tatum has scored more playoff points than any rookie since 1976

Back and forth the Celtics went, arguing who deserves the title of greatest player ever.

Through the first five games it is clear Cleveland has the best player in this series while Boston has the better team.

If the Cavs win that game and extend the series to a seventh and final game, it will be fascinating to see if he can push past his exhaustion one more time and lead Cleveland to a fourth straight NBA Finals. The game showed why no one should be holding out hope for a Cavs comeback.

But if the 4-time MVP can't extend his Finals run to an eighth straight appearance this postseason, any frustration on James' end won't stem from the streak itself.

So, yes, the stakes couldn't be higher. "We had an opportunity, but we didn't make enough plays".

"Well, I think as a team we need to do a better job of getting our best shot, including some drive-and-kick inside-out 3's", Celtics coach Brad Stevens said yesterday on a conference call. I know it's coming.

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LeBron James was admittedly exhausted in Game 5 and the rest of the team will have to step up if they are going to return to the Finals, where LeBron James has been the last seven years.

Boston is 8-3 ATS in its last 11 games.

While Lue and his home were clearly safe, and the light-hearted moment passed quickly, it was also symbolic of Cleveland's urgent situation.

Only one player in National Basketball Association history has done anything approaching what LeBron James is doing at age 33 in the playoffs. The Celtics are now back in the drivers' seat as they have home-court advantage and the series lead but they've lost six of their seven road games in these playoffs while the Cavaliers have won seven of their eight home games in these playoffs. Rozier fronted James and got help from Baynes, the 6-foot-10, 254-pound Australian who contributed seven rebounds, six points and attitude.

Much of the credit goes to Boston's No.1 ranked defense, but Cleveland deserves a large share of the blame. The Cavs were forced into 15 turnovers. They outrebounded the Cavaliers, 45-39, and were more careful with the ball. Rookie Jayson Tatum scored 24 points for his ninth 20-point game in the playoffs, tying Donovan Mitchell and David Robinson for second all time among rookies.

"You can't live or die with every loss or win", Stevens said. JR Smith finished with just two points in 26 minutes of action while Kyle Korver played just 19 minutes off the bench which is something that could change going into a must-win Game 6. The Cavs opted not to play Tristan Thompson in the closing moments and it bit them hard. There is a greater than even chance the Cavs do not advance to the NBA Finals for the first time since 2014, and James does not advance to the last round for the first time since 2010. 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.

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