Celtics 120, Cavaliers 88
The Celtics' strong first half allowed them to enjoy a six-point lead in the locker rooms at halftime, but it was the stronger start to the third quarter that helped them blow this game wide open.
There was a feeling in the air that the first few minutes of the third quarter could be the deciding moments of the game, and that notion came to fruition when Ray Allen provided the Celtics with a spark right out of the gate in the second half. Allen drilled back-to-back 3-pointers just 66 seconds into the third period, and those 3s put Boston ahead by 12 points. The C's allowed Shaquille O'Neal to slam a basket home for Cleveland, but they then rattled off three straight baskets with the help of Rajon Rondo.
Rondo's first half was underwhelming compared to what he did in Game 4, but he recovered during this stretch to make a driving layup, assist on a Kevin Garnett layup and then drill a jumper. Those baskets helped put Boston ahead by 16 points at the 8:29 mark of the third, and the Cavaliers were unable to make a run from that point on.
The memories of Game 1, where the Celtics blew a large lead in the second half, are a distant memory now. Tonight, the C's didn't just hold onto the lead, they added to it -- to the tune of an eventual 32-point victory. Allen's 3s were the turning point of the game, putting all of the momentum in Boston's hands. Rondo's quick spurt only added to that fact, and the Celts simply rolled from there.
Key Box Score Line
Ray Allen's 25 points on 8-of-13 shooting have to get some love here, but there's no doubt that Paul Pierce was the man tonight.
Pierce snapped out of his four-game funk and nearly dropped a triple-double tonight with his 21 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists. He took over from the get-go tonight, scoring six points in the first period to go along with two assists. His aggression and leadership set the tone for the C's, serving as the breath of fresh air this team had been waiting to inhale all series long.
His limited offensive success through the first four games of the series (averages of only 11.8 PPG and 32.0 percent shooting) was a non-factor tonight, as he was able to drain nine of his 21 shot attempts and rack up those seven assists while turning the ball over only one time.
It was a statement game for the Celtics, but it was also a statement game for Pierce. His play spoke loud and clear tonight: "I'm back."
Box Score Nuggets
- Boston committed only 10 turnovers, which led to only six points for Cleveland.
- Cleveland committed 17 tunovers that led to 24 points for Boston.
- Four Celtic starters scored at least 16 points, led by Ray Allen's 25.
- Allen's 25 points came via 8-of-13 shooting from the field and 6-of-9 shooting from downtown.
- LeBron James scored only 15 points on 3-of-14 shooting from the field.
- Nine of James' 15 points game from the free-throw line.
- Paul Pierce nearly recorded a triple-double with 21 points, a game-high 11 rebounds and seven assists.
- Shaquille O'Neal scored 21 points on 7-of-11 shooting and also made seven of his 10 free throw attempts.
- The Celtics outrebounded Cleveland 41-31.
- Rajon Rondo, Pierce and James tied for the game-high with seven assists apiece.
- O'Neal and Zzydrunas Ilgauskas each blocked four Boston shots, while the Celtics blocked only four shots total.
- Cleveland blocked 10 of Boston's 80 field goal attempts.
- Each team attempted 34 free throws, with Cleveland making 27 and Boston sinking 24.
- Glen Davis came off the bench to score 15 points for Boston while shooting 7-of-10 from the free-throw line.
- Anderson Varejao grabbed a team-high eight rebounds for the Cavs.
- The Celtics outscored the Cavs 23-7 in second chance points.
- After scoring only 20 points in the first quarter, Boston rattled off 30, 30 and 40 points in the next three periods, respectively.
- Cleveland didn't score more than 25 points in any quarter tonight.
- Not a single Cavalier reserve scored more than five points.
- Mo Williams and Antawn Jamison scored only nine points apiece.
- The Celtics shot 55.0 percent from the floor and 53.3 percent from 3-point range.
- Eight players in the game went to the free-throw line and did not miss.
Quote of the Night
Paul Pierce on the team's balanced scoring attack: "... So that's the beauty of our team. You never know where it's going to come from and that's what makes us so dangerous. Different guys stepping up on different nights."