Preview: Cavaliers at Celtics

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[May 25, 2017]  The Cleveland Cavaliers are one victory away from joining the Golden State Warriors in a high-profile NBA Finals' rematch. Second-seeded Cleveland looks to sew up its spot when it visits the top-seeded Boston Celtics in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals on Thursday.

The Cavaliers took a 3-1 lead with a 112-99 victory in Game 4 as point guard Kyrie Irving (42 points) and small forward LeBron James (34) scored at will. Cleveland looked in jeopardy of returning to Boston with the series tied before a torrid second half in which it outscored the Celtics 65-42. The Celtics haven't found the home floor to be much help against the Cavaliers as they lost the first two games by an average of 28.5 points, including a 130-86 setback in Game 2. "We're humble enough to know that we haven't played well at home, and we want to give our home crowd a better outing than we did the past two games," forward Jae Crowder told reporters. "We're right there where we want to be, we're locked in."

TV: 8:30 p.m. ET, TNT

ABOUT THE CAVALIERS: Irving tweaked an ankle but didn't seem to be the least bit affected as he scored 33 of his points during an impressive 19-minute stretch. "He's a special kid," James said of Irving. "He's a special talent. As the stakes get higher and higher, his game gets higher and higher, but it was nothing surprising for me." James overcame early foul trouble to make 15-of-27 shots after suffering through a porous Game 3 in which he tallied just 11 points on 4-of-13 shooting.

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ABOUT THE CELTICS: Guard Marcus Smart was a Game 3 hero with 27 points as he capably stepped up in the wake of Isaiah Thomas' season-ending hip injury. But he was unable to follow up that outing as he had just eight points on 1-of-9 shooting in Game 4 for his third single-digit deficit of the series. Crowder battled through a groin injury in Game 4 and produced 18 points and eight rebounds and is averaging 15.5 points and 7.8 rebounds in the series.


1. Celtics backup C Kelly Olynyk averaged 15 points over the past two contests after scoring just two total points in the first two games.

2. Cleveland PF Kevin Love has recorded double-doubles in all four games of the series and is averaging 24.5 points and 12.8 rebounds.

3. Boston backup SF Jaylen Brown (hip pointer), who is averaging 9.5 points in the series, is questionable for Game 5.

PREDICTION: Celtics 109, Cavaliers 105

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