BOSTON, Sporting Alert — The Cleveland Cavaliers and the Boston Celtics will battle in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals on Thursday night. Watch live streaming coverage on TNT Overtime. Game time is 8:30 pm ET.
Boston returns home aiming to extend its playoffs campaign, while LeBron James and the Cavs are seeking to closeout the series and get some rest before the start of the NBA Finals on June 1.
Cleveland, which won Game 4 at home on Tuesday night, leads the series 3-1 and can wrap things up on the road.
But despite entering the game as the favourite and taking on a Boston side without Isaiah Thomas, James has outlined the difficulty he and his teammates will face at TD Garden against a very desperate Celtics squad.
In the last meeting, All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving came to life in the second half to pilot the Cavaliers to a 112-99 victory.
Irving, in his best outing of the series, finished the game with 42 points, while James, recovered from a slow start and early foul trouble, added 34 points in the win that gave the defending champions some breathing room.
Kevin Love, who is averaging 24.5 points and 12.8 rebounds, while shooting 50.8 percent in this series, had 17 points and 17 rebounds in Game 4.
Four players scored in double figures for Boston in the defeat on Tuesday night, but the top-seed couldn’t hold on to an early 16 point lead.
ESPN Basketball Power Index gives Boston a 56 percent chance to win Thursday’s Game 5, but the Thomas-less No. 1 seed face a difficult task of turning this series around.
According to ESPN Stats and Information, Celtics are 2-9 all-time in playoff series when trailing 3-1 and will go up against a Cavaliers team desperate to finish off this matchup.
In the absence of Thomas, the likes of Marcus Smart, Avery Bradley, Al Horford and Jae Crowder will need to step up again.
A win for Cleveland on Thursday night would see James and Co. advancing to face Golden State in the NBA Finals for the third straight season.
It would also be the first time two NBA teams battled in a championship for three successive seasons.