It was a good omen right from the start of this game as Perk won the tip although the first minute was sloppy on both sides with a 24 second violation on each team and a defensive 3 second violation on KG. The Cavs came out strong to begin the game rushing out to an 18-9 lead in the first 8 minutes. The Cavs held a 23-18 lead at the end of the first quarter. It seemed like more of the same from games 3 and 4 with the Celtics shooting 35% and the Cavs shooting 50%. The Cavs also beat the Celtics on the boards 10-7 in the first quarter.
The Cavs continued their run in the second quarter as they ran the lead up to 43-29 with 3:35 left in the half. Doc put Rondo back in for Sam and it paid dividends right away as Rondo hit 2 3 pointers in a row to cut the lead to 43-37 Cavs. That started a 14-3 run by the Celtics to cut the lead to 46-43 at the half. LeBron scored 23 points in the half but the Cavs role players didn't get the job done.
The Celtics came out ready to play in the 3rd quarter as Ray hit a jumper to cut the lead to 1. Rondo then got a steal and a layup to take the lead at 47-46. The lead then went back and forth until Boston took the lead for good at 58-55 with 5:15 left in the third. The play of the game came with 3:51 left in the 3rd quarter when Rondo skied for a block on a layup by Delonte West. The lead at the end of 3 was Celtics 72 and Cavaliers 63.
The Celtics got a little sloppy down the stretch as Delonte got a couple of steals and took them in for easy layups and the Cavs were able to cut the Celtics 12 point lead down to 4 points with just 12.2 seconds left in the game. Pierce scored the Celtics last 8 points from the free throw line to seal the 96-89 win.
Rondo was the player of the game as he took over the game on both ends of the floor and finished with 20 points, 2 rebounds, 13 assists, 2 steals, 2 blocks and just 1 turnover. Kevin Garnett was also huge in the game with 26 points, 16 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals and 3 blocks. Paul Pierce was much more aggressive in taking the ball to the hoop while still doing a good job of defending LeBron in the second half. After 23 first half points, James scored just 12 in the second half. Pierce finished with 29 points, 7 rebounds, and 3 assists.
Ray Allen still struggled with his shot, going only 4-11 from the field for 11 points, but he did a good job of fronting Wally and holding him to just 10 points on 3-8 shooting. Ray also made a big play with 15.6 seconds left and the Celtics leading 93-87. KG missed a jumper and Ray tipped the rebound out to Pierce who was fouled and he hit both free throws to give the Celtics some breathing room. Big Baby gave the Celtics a boost of energy off the bench as he scored 6 points in 11 minutes. At one point he landed full force on Wally which couldn't have been too pleasant for Wally. Sam Cassell once again struggled and went scoreless in 5 minutes of play.
All of the starters except Perk, who was in foul trouble much of the game, played over 40 minutes. It was nice to have Rondo on the floor to start the 4th quarter so that we had momentum right from the beginning. The Celtics ended the game shooting 48% and they held the Cavs to 45%. The Celtics also out rebounded the Cavs 38-30. The Celtics ball movement was excellent in this game as they had 25 assists on 37 field goals. The Cavs had only 11 assists. This game still had a huge disparity in free throws as the Celtics shot 17-23 and the Cavs shot 23-41 from the line. This may have had a different result if the Cavs hit their free throws.
The series shifts back to Cleveland for game 6. Can the Celtics finally get a win on the road? I certainly hope so. The Celtics seem to have found their defensive intensity once again and their ball movement was back. Hopefully they can carry those things over to game 6 and finally pull out a win on the road.