For the second time this postseason, Cleveland is facing elimination.
After losing Wednesday’s Game 5 in Boston 96-83, the Cavaliers now need to beat the Celtics in Game 6 at home and Game 7 on the road. The loss is Cleveland’s fifth double-digit loss of the postseason. Cleveland is 3-5 on the road so far in the playoffs, including a 0-3 record in Boston so far in the Eastern Conference Finals. It previously faced in the first round when the Pacers series went to seven games.
LeBron James led the Cavaliers with 26 points to go along with 10 rebounds, five assists and six turnovers. Kevin Love added 14 points. Celtics forward Jayson Tatum led Boston with 24.
Cavalier players not named James and Love were 14-39 from the field. Notably, George Hill was 1-5, J.R. Smith with 1-6 and Kyle Korver was 2-6.
Cleveland led early before Boston went on 7-0 run in the middle of the first quarter as part of an overall 15-3 run that put them up by double-digits. By the end of the first, the Celtics led by the 13 points.
The Cavs responded to start the second quarter, relying on bench lineup that cut what ballooned into a 17-point deficit into a nine-point lead. But Boston would again push the lead into double-digits near the end of a first half with a James basket with 31.2 seconds to go bringing the Cavs within 11 points at halftime.
The third quarter played out much of the same way, with the Celtics pushing their up to 16 by the end of the quarter. With James on the bench to start the fourth quarter, Boston pushed its lead up to a game-high 19 points with 10:41 to go in the fourth quarter. James did come back in with 10:14 left in the quarter, helping the Cavs immediately go on a 9-0 run and forcing the Celtics to take a timeout.
But then Cleveland hit another wall. On three straight possessions, the Cavs missed three straight three-pointers. At the same time, Boston got back to scoring and had its lead back up to 17 with 3:40 to go. James then clanked one final three-pointer with 3:20 to go and subbed out for good with 3:11 to go, with rookie Cedi Osman taking his place.
As a team, the Cavs shot 9-34 on three-pointers and also missed seven free throws. The Celtics weren’t much better from three — Boston was 13-33 from three — but did make 21 of its 23 free throws.
Up next: Cavs-Celtics Game 6 is on Friday at Quicken Loans Arena. Tipoff is at 8:30 p.m. Boston will win the series with a win, while Cleveland needs the win to force a Game 7.