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Boston Celtics player grades as Jayson Tatum shines with all-around performance

Boston Celtics rookie Jayson Tatum was everywhere on the court in the Game 5 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Jay Asser 2018/05/24

The pattern of the home team winning in the Eastern Conference Finals continued in Game 5 as the Boston Celtics beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 96-83 to take a 3-2 lead.

Boston didn’t shoot all that well (36.5 per cent) and had stretches of stagnant offence, but they played like the more desperate team and came out with energy on their home floor.

Here are player grades for the Celtics.

Jayson Tatum – A

Offensively, we’ve seen better from Tatum. But as far as all-around performances for his young career, this one is right at the top. He had 24 points on 7-of-15 from the field, while grabbing seven rebounds, dishing four assists, nabbing four steals and swatting two shots. He came up with timely baskets and his aggression netted him eight free throws, but he was perhaps more impressive on the defensive end, where he caused chaos as a help defender and jumped passing lanes. He was maybe the best player on the floor despite sharing the stage with LeBron James.

Al Horford – B+

Another solid outing by Horford, who had 15 points, 12 rebounds and finished with a game-high plus-minus of plus-22. He only took nine shots, but he was aggressive from the early stages as the Celtics played through him in the post. Horford could have finished with better numbers if he converted a couple of easy looks, but it was still his best performance since Game 2.

Aron Baynes – B+

Brad Stevens’ lineup change was to insert his hulking centre into the starting five and the move paid dividends. With Baynes on the court, Boston had more size for rim protection and rebounding, which helped them hold the Cavaliers to 19 first-quarter points and jump out to an early lead. And even though LeBron James got the better of him on a few one-on-one situations, they were mostly tough, contested shots that the Celtics will live it.

Marcus Smart – B

Smart didn’t have any real signature moments in the win, but his shooting was a welcomed sight as he hit 5-of-9 overall and 3-of-6 from deep. He also had four assists as his ball-handling in the pick-and-roll led to some easy baskets.

Marcus Morris – B

He was just as effective coming off the bench for the first time in the series, finishing with 13 points on 5-of-16 shooting (3-of-6 on 3s) and six rebounds. Defensively, he checked James on 46 possessions and held his own, allowing 15 points on 6-of-12 shooting. Four of those misses were from long range as he did well to offer resistance.

Jaylen Brown – C

Brown’s ability to get to the free throw line is what kept him from having a rough night, as he shot just 4-of-15 overall and 2-of-8 from beyond the arc. His aggressiveness can be a double-edged sword at times, as it was in Game 5 when many of his downhill drives ended up going into a crowd of defenders. And he still wasn’t able to take advantage of his match-up with Kyle Korver often.

Terry Rozier – D+

After hitting his first shot of the game – a 3-pointer – Rozier missed 12 in a row to go ice cold. He did make two baskets in the fourth quarter to help keep Cleveland at bay, but the Celtics were fortunate to survive a bad game by him, and that too at home.

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Al Horford Aron Baynes Boston Celtics Jaylen Brown Jayson Tatum Marcus Morris Marcus Smart Terry Rozier