Celtics crush Cavs, take 3-2 series lead
Ray Allen scored 25 points, Rajon Rondo scored all of his 16 in the second half and the Celtics, once thought too old to challenge for another title, beat LeBron James and the Cavs,
120-88, in Game 5 on Tuesday night to move within one win of knocking the NBA’s top team from the playoffs.
Paul Pierce added 21 and Kevin Garnett 18 for the Celtics, who handed the Cavs their worst home playoff loss in history and can end Cleveland’s season with a win in Game 6 on Thursday night.
“We cannot come back here,” Garnett said. “We have to think this is our Game 7 coming up and we cannot afford to have the best team in the league have a Game 7 on their floor. Just not possible.”
James, the league’s two-time MVP on the verge of an expected trip into free agency on July 1, had an atrocious game. He scored 15 points on 3-of-14 shooting, a startling outing for the 25-year-old who has been playing with a sprained elbow.
Because of James’ uncertain future, Game 5 may have been his last at home for Cleveland and it has set up Game 6 as the most important in franchise history: Win and force Game 7 on Sunday in Cleveland; lose and maybe watch James, the local kid trying to deliver this city its first pro championship since 1964, leave for good.
Rondo, coming off a 29-point, 18-rebound, 13-assist performance in Game 4, was held without a point in the first half. He finally got loose in the third, scoring 12 as the Celtics opened a 21-point lead.
Boston went up by 24 in the fourth, sending Cleveland fans toward the exits.
James finally checked out with 3:58 and the Celtics leading by 27.
He shrugged his shoulders and slapped hands with Cleveland’s coaches and teammate Shaquille O’Neal, who had 21 points.
Allen opened the second half with back-to-back three-pointers, pushing Boston’s six-point halftime lead to 12 and deflating already nervous Cleveland fans, who have seen so many of their teams choke in pressure situations before.
Last updated: 1:52 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012