Boston Celtics advance to sixth Eastern Conference Finals in eight years, downing Cleveland Cavaliers 113-98 in Game 5

The top-seeded Boston Celtics continued their charge towards the NBA Finals on Wednesday, defeating the shorthanded Cleveland Cavaliers 113-98 in Game 5.

Superstar forward Jayson Tatum came close to a triple-double, scoring 25 points, grabbing 10 rebounds and dishing out nine assists as Boston moved onto the Eastern Conference Finals for the sixth time in the last eight seasons and for the third year in a row.

Celtics center Al Horford – starting in place of the injured Kristaps Porziņģis – drained a career-high-tying six three-pointers, with his final triple coming inside the last minute of the game to send the home fans at TD Garden into raptures.

“Tonight was a special night for our group because we had this chance to close it out here at home,” said Horford, who finished with 22 points, 15 rebounds, five assists and three blocks. “And for me, the biggest thing was bringing energy.

“It’s special when you’re here at the Garden. This is something I just don’t take for granted, the energy of the fans. Our fans, they love the Celtics. They want us to play hard. They want us to play the right way and I just felt very connected with them tonight.”

Per the Celtics, Horford became just the third player in NBA playoff history to record a 20-15-5 game at age 37 or older along with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and LeBron James.

Every Boston starter scored in double figures on the way to a comfortable victory. The series against the Cavaliers drew parallels with the Celtics’ first-round matchup against the Miami Heat – the Cavs suffered an upset defeat in Game 2 in both rounds to tie the series at 1-1 before winning three straight to advance.

Boston now awaits the winner of the series between the New York Knicks and the Indiana Pacers, which is currently 3-2 in New York’s favor. Game 6 will be played on Friday in Indiana.

Celtics fans are looking forward to the next round. - Adam Glanzman/Getty Images
Celtics fans are looking forward to the next round. - Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

It was a disappointing end to the postseason for the Cavaliers, meanwhile, who were missing several key rotation players.

Center Jarrett Allen missed his eighth consecutive game with injury, while Caris LeVert was also out. Most crucially, however, All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell was again sidelined with a calf injury after also missing Game 4. Mitchell averaged almost 30 points per game across his 10 playoff appearances this season.

Evan Mobley scored 33 points to lead the Cavs in scoring and also pulled down seven boards, while veteran forward Marcus Morris Sr. added 25 off the bench.

“I was proud of their effort,” Cavaliers coach J.B. Bickerstaff said of his team postgame. “This has been a difficult year for us, for a bunch of different reasons. They never found the time to fold on each other. All they did was find ways to compete.”

Dončić dominates as Mavericks take 3-2 lead against Thunder

Luka Dončić posted a triple-double in a pivotal Game 5 to help the fifth seeded Dallas Mavericks to a 104-92 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder and lift his squad to a 3-2 series lead on the road.

The Slovenian superstar has had an up-and-down series as he deals with injuries but appeared to be back to his best on Wednesday night, recording 31 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists.

“I’m just trying to play basketball, just focus on basketball,” Dončić said. “Sometimes I forget this is the thing I love, the thing I do. My mental focus was just go out there and play basketball with a smile on my face and just go.”

Dončić shoots a three-pointer during Game 5 against the Thunder. - Alonzo Adams/USA TODAY Sports/Reuters
Dončić shoots a three-pointer during Game 5 against the Thunder. - Alonzo Adams/USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

Derrick Jones Jr. added 19 points while Dončić’s backcourt co-star, Kyrie Irving, was held to 12 points.

The Thunder – the West’s top seed – were led by MVP runner-up Shai Gilgeous-Alexander who scored 30 points in the losing effort. OKC is facing elimination for the first time this postseason after sweeping the New Orleans Pelicans in the first round.

The Mavs will look to avoid a Game 7 and close out the series in front of their home fans in Game 6 on Saturday.

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