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Looks like Spike Lee could be getting his wish. In the midst of a third quarter the Boston Celtics dominated, on their way to a stunning 120-88 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena, the tension began visibly and audibly rising among the hometown fans of Cleveland. And this was a tension not only seeded in a series-turning loss to Boston, but also in the uncertainty of whether or not the beloved LeBron James would be playing his last home game as a member of the Cavs. Should this be his last, it was certainly one to forget for the Cavaliers and their fans.
And Spike can thank one of his own former stars in part, one “Jesus Shuttlesworth,” as he recently referred to him. Better known as Ray Allen (who starred in Lee’s 1998 drama “He Got Game” as “Shuttlesworth” alongside Denzel Washington), he was able to do his part by scoring 25 points; going 6-9 from three point range.
The most encouraging news came from a Paul Pierce sighting in this series, who was a decent 9-21 from the field, but willed his way to the basket on many plays and finished the first half with 14 points (he’s been averaging just under 12 for the series). Pierce finished the day with 21 points, 11 rebounds, and seven assists, all while once again doing his best at hustle defense on LBJ, who had one of the worst playoff performances of his career.
Kevin Garnett stayed steady as he has throughout the postseason, and while Rajon Rondo’s game was not one for the history books like Sunday’s, he continued to dictate the pace for both teams with his vision and aggression.
The combination of the Celtics’ second half play and LeBron’s shockingly awful overall play was what sealed victory for the C’s on Tuesday. A fourth quarter led by Glen “Big Baby” Davis, who at one point scored eight straight points and was outpacing the Cavaliers all by himself, put the cap on a Game 5 that many could look back to as “the night LeBron left Cleveland,” should the Celtics be able to close out the series.
And LeBron, once again, was the story of the evening. A pitiful shooting performance will almost certainly lead to questions about that elbow again (he even removed the protective sleeve at one point), but James himself will tell all that he was 100%, and all should believe him. A performance like this (15 points, six rebounds, seven assists) in the regular season can be dubbed as “decent” or an “off-night,” but in a contest of this magnitude, with a Game 6 looming back in Boston, where one of these teams would have the chance to advance to a date with the Orlando Magic, LeBron James came up short in almost every way imaginable. However this series may end, it’s going to be an interesting summer in Cleveland.