BOSTON -- It's all about
After playing one of the worst games of his career Tuesday, passively settling for jump shots as his Cavaliers were surrendering their home-court advantage in an unfathomable 120-88 Game 5 loss to the Celtics, the league MVP must now galvanize Cleveland to win Game 6 here Thursday. The fourth-seeded Celtics can finish their upset of No. 1 Cleveland with another win, and everything is turning Boston's way.
The Celtics have been the better team and point guard
The Celtics don't expect the same from him in Game 6.
"If you know anybody who gives two cents about this game and is very, very competitive -- anything like me -- then they're going to go home and watch this tape,'' Celtics forward
James has never experienced the level of criticism he's hearing now, and it won't be easy for him to fix the problems. For year after year
If James is focused on rescuing this series for Cleveland, we'll see his best work at the defensive end. The Cavs look frightened by the 6-foot-1 Rondo, who has beaten into the paint everyone assigned to him --
"It was team defense,'' Boston coach
Can the Cavs apply the same defensive resolution against Rondo and the Celtics?
"When you look at Cleveland, you know you've got to stop LeBron,'' said Pierce, who scored 21 in Game 5 while leading the defense against James. "With us, we've got four or five guys who can lead using scoring, from me, Rondo, Ray, KG. You never know where it's going to come from and that's what makes us so dangerous.''
They weren't so dangerous coming into the playoffs -- the Celtics were 27-27 after Christmas -- and Cleveland is left hoping Boston can't maintain its focus for a third straight win. Cleveland's formula has to start with tireless defense and then sprout out to the easy baskets in transition that will liberate James and open floor space for him to create for everyone, including
"There was little that we did right,'' Cleveland coach
The theme that backlights this evening is the future of James, who can become a free agent this summer. Will this be his final game as a Cavalier?
But the immediate question is more pertinent: Why isn't he imposing the same kind of matchup problems that Rondo is creating for the Celtics?