Nothing is guaranteed. The Celtics have been abysmal on the road, and Game 6 will take them back to Cleveland, where they haven't been able to score or stop James. On the downside, if they win the series moves back to Boston for the decisive game 7 so the Celtics can still take the series and move on to the National Basketball Association finals. The 20-year-old rookie hit seven of his 15 shots (including three of seven from downtown) and played some solid defense on LeBron James throughout the contest. "So I've just got to fight through it [and] keep my composure". "And I think that the deal is you can't ride the emotional roller coaster. I know what's at stake the next game".
James won't have been helped by recent speculation surrounding his future.
- If he deposits 30 more points, Tatum jumps to No. 2, above Alvan Adams (341 points.) In case you're wondering, the 6-9 Adams was a good player for Phoenix from 1975 through 1988, winning the league Rookie of the Year award and averaging 14.7 points and 7.1 rebounds for his career.
"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.
"We just gave him different looks", Smart said of the game plan versus James.
The Cavs waived the white flag when James checked out with 3:11 remaining.
He didn't have his usual burst. The Cavs also were just 5-of-17 shooting off James' passes, the lowest percentage for Cleveland in the past three postseasons. His teammates are draining him. LeBron James has taken the court in seven straight NBA Finals. That includes Tristan Thompson, 27, who had a pathetic game five scoring only one point in 26 minutes of play. Solid, but sub-par by his standards and he committed six turnovers and missed some makeable layups.
Lue inexplicably left Kyle Korver off the floor for long stretches and following the game he curiously explained that Stevens' rotation "kind of threw us for a loop".
The last time the Cavs were in this situation - Game 7 of the first round against Indiana - James responded with 45 points.
The Cavs will come in with a similar approach having won both of the previous games in this series that were played in Cleveland.
The Celtics used the energy of the crowd, and their own will not to relent even through some cold stretches shooting, to build a double-digit lead in the second quarter that was seldom threatened during their 10th straight playoff victory on the parquet.