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Celtics Stifle Cavs, Are One Win Away From NBA Finals

By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com

The TD Garden Effect remained alive and well on Wednesday night, and has put the Celtics just one win away from their first trip to the NBA Finals in eight years following their 96-83 Game 5 win over the Cavaliers.

Led by a relentless attack from deep and a punishing defensive effort, which forced the Cavs into five first-quarter turnovers, the Celtics jumped out to a 13-point lead through the opening 12 minutes.

The Celtics weathered some minor cold streaks along the way, but repeatedly kept the Cavaliers from turning this game into a track meet in the second quarter, with an even-footed second that saw the C's carry an 11-point lead into the half.

By halftime, the Celtics had converted on nine of their 22 attempts from three-point range (a dominant 40.9 percentage), including a 3-for-4 mark from the 20-year-old Jayson Tatum and a 3-for-3 start from Marcus Morris.

With Tatum absolutely feeling it in a 24-point night, the C's also set the tone at both ends of the court throughout the night, with 10 steals (including four from Tatum) and six blocks (two of which came from Tatum's massive reach).

And as the game went on, LeBron James looked noticeably fatigued. It was hard to pinpoint exactly what happened, but the 33-year-old looked tired, winded, and frustrated. At one point, he simply sat on the sidelines and slowed wiped his way with a towel.That happens when you're carrying the weight of a starting five, franchise, and city on your back.

Even with James looking undeniably 'off' in this effort, he still finished with 26 points in 39 minutes.

But when James slowed to a second-half crawl, the Cavs waned with him.

Behind LeBron's aforementioned 26 points, the next highest-scoring Cav, Kevin Love, had 14 points behind a 6-of-13 night. And it got a lot worse from there. The other three starters totaled just 10 points on a combined 2-for-14 night from the field, with George Hill 'rising' above the rest with seven points. This was a simple repeat of what you saw in Games 1 and 2.

With desperation in their game, the Cavs brought themselves within relative striking distance, but ultimately let it slip when they had four straight possessions without a single point before Al Horford came through with a putaway alley-oop slam.

With the victory, Brad Stevens and the Celtics became just the seventh team in NBA history to win 10 straight home games during one playoff run. For what it's worth, the previous six all made it to the NBA Finals.

The Celtics will go for the knockout punch Friday night in Cleveland.

Ty Anderson is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Ty? Follow him on Twitter @_TyAnderson.