BOSTON — The narrative of being back home is one Brad Stevens understands all too well. Up to this point, it has been the key to Boston’s ability to navigate some of the choppier waters of the postseason as they fight to sail another day.
Still, as important as it to be back at the TD Garden, ultimately Boston’s chances of extending their home winning streak in the playoffs to 10 in a row lies in how they play.
“Get ready to play well,” Stevens said. “That’s what we have to prepare to do. We have to prepare to play as well as we can. It’s exciting to be able to compete at this level of the discussion. Certainly in this venue, in front of our fans. But at the same time, we have a job to do once we get between those lines.”
And doing that job has been a lot easier for the Celtics on their home floor.
“We want to come back in front of our crowd and our fans, and get a ‘W’ tonight,” said Jayson Tatum.
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Here are five below-the-radar storylines to keep an eye on tonight in this pivotal Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The importance of getting Al Horford involved can't be said enough in Boston’s quest to regain an edge in this series. Horford’s usage rate (the percentage of team plays used by a player when he’s on the floor) in Game 1 and 2 wins was 20.0 and 18.1 percent. In the Game 3 and 4 losses, that number dipped to 9.8 and 16.1. The Celtics ensuring as best they can that Horford remain engaged as the main cog in their offense is huge tonight.
FIRST SIX MINUTES
The Celtics don’t necessarily need to come out with a fast start, but they have to do something about how they have been consistently outplayed in the early going this series. Boston has been outscored the first six minutes in all but one game of this series and that was Game 1 when they opened with a 15-7 run.
FIFTH GAME SUCCESS
Game 5's at the TD Garden have been a really good thing for the Celtics. They come in having won 10 straight home Game 5's of series tied at two. Boston’s all-time record in Game 5's series tied at two, is 32-12.
TIGHT POINT TOTALS
Even though the scores in the four games, by and large, haven’t been that close, the total points scored by both teams is surprisingly razor-thin. Cleveland has scored a total of 404 points in this series. The Celtics? Right behind them with 403 points scored.
Brad Stevens is considering making a potential lineup change to the first unit. While most have talked about Stevens possibly replacing Marcus Morris with Aron Baynes, there’s another possibility to consider: Semi Ojeleye.
Stevens shocked many earlier in the postseason when he inserted Ojeyle into the starting lineup for Boston’s first-round series against Milwaukee right before...wait for it...GAME 5!
Ojeleye was plucked to be a starter primarily as a means of slowing down Giannis Antetokounmpo. He definitely helped as Boston eliminated the Bucks in seven games. Stevens has to give some thought to having Ojeleye start especially when you consider how well he has done guarding James this season. Ojeleye has defended James on 47 possessions in this series, according to NBA.com/stats. Against Ojeleye, James is shooting 2-for-7 (29 percent) from the field while having scored nine points to go with eight assists and two turnovers.