Celtics, Cavaliers Jockey for Positioning in Crucial Game 5

Celtics, Cavaliers Jockey for Positioning in Crucial Game 5 When Doc Rivers told the media a week and a half ago that Rajon Rondo would be the key to this Eastern Conference semifinal series, he really wasn't kidding.

Thanks to Rondo, the Celtics are now tied 2-2 with the Cavaliers and they're flying into Cleveland with a chance to claim the series lead on Tuesday night.

The C's tied the series on Sunday behind a triple-double from their young point guard, and they'll now look to the youngster to carry them to another win.

When this series began, no one expected the Celtics to threaten the NBA-best Cavaliers. Four games later, the C's are looking at a chance to prove everyone wrong.

When and Where

Celtics at Cavaliers
Tuesday, May 11, 8 p.m. (TNT)
Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, Ohio

Head to Head

Once again, the Celtics have evened the score. In the regular season, these two teams split 2-2; now, in the playoffs, they have an even 2-2 split as well. Over the course of the next three to six days, someone will come out on top in this season series. That team moves on to face the Magic in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Key Matchup

LeBron James vs. Rajon Rondo
It's the matchup everyone's talking about. But will it really happen? It leaves so many questions unanswered. If LeBron assumes the bulk of the workload guarding the Celtics' young point guard in Game 5, then where does Mo Williams go? What about Anthony Parker? Can one of them guard Paul Pierce? And if one does, can Pierce exploit that mismatch and break out of his recent scoring slump? The beauty of this Celtics team is its depth and teamwork — so if you devote too much to stopping just one guy, you inevitably open things up for the rest of the team. That's the risk the Cavs run with focusing too heavily on Rondo. King James had better beware.

Starting Lineups

Celtics
Point guard: Rajon Rondo
Shooting guard: Ray Allen
Small forward: Paul Pierce
Power forward: Kevin Garnett
Center: Kendrick Perkins

Cavaliers

Point guard: Mo Williams
Shooting guard: Anthony Parker
Small forward: LeBron James
Power forward: Antawn Jamison
Center: Shaquille O'Neal

Stat Sheet

Celtics

  • Rajon Rondo had 29 points, 18 rebounds and 13 assists for the Celtics in Game 4 on Sunday afternoon.
  • Paul Pierce is shooting 16-of-50 (32 percent) in this series. He has yet to score 15-plus points in a game.
  • Kendrick Perkins has career playoff averages of 7.3 points, 7.2 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game.

Cavaliers

  • LeBron James has scored 119 points in this series — 73 in the Cavaliers' two wins and 46 in their two losses.
  • Mo Williams shot 8-of-14 in Game 1 of this series but 8-of-26 in the three games since.
  • Delonte West has career playoff averages of 10.0 points, 3.3 assists and 1.2 steals per game.

Black and Blue

Celtics

  • Kevin Garnett and Kendrick Perkins both battled minor injuries last week, but both are back to 100 percent.

Cavaliers

  • LeBron James continues to play through his strained right elbow.

Outlook

Once again, Rajon Rondo has emerged as the key to this series. The deciding question for these final two or three games is how the Cavaliers decide to contain him. And it's not just about his bullet passes or his aggressive dribble penetration — in this series, it's been the hustle plays on the defensive end translating into fast-break points for the speedy Rondo. If the Cavs take care of the ball well and win the 50-50 game, they can keep Rondo under control. But if Rondo, Tony Allen and Glen Davis run wild and Boston's energy prevails, the C's might be on their way to a 3-2 series lead.

Yardbarker

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