LeBron James was good but not great as the Cleveland Cavaliers had another inconsistent performance in Game 5 against the Boston Celtics.
The Cleveland Cavaliers remaining maddening and wildly inconsistent on a night-to-night basis.
After seemingly getting their act together at home during the Eastern Conference Finals, the Cavaliers returned to looking hapless in the 96-83 loss to the Boston Celtics in Game 5.
Here are player grades for Cleveland.
LeBron James – B
For anyone else, this would have been a great game. But LeBron isn’t just anyone and by his standard, Game 5 was okay. On a night when his team-mates flat out didn’t show up to offer much help, James needed to go supernova, but he couldn’t pull that type of effort out. He looked gassed at times and didn’t exhibit the same hustle in transition and defence that he did in Game 3 and 4 at home. He was also sloppy with the ball again, losing six turnovers. Maybe he was saving something in the tank for when he and the Cavaliers really need it and are facing elimination.
Larry Nance Jr – B
It’s not a promising sign when you’re second-best player in a game is someone who was on the floor for just 17 minutes. Credit to Nance though, he brought energy on the boards and defensively, coming up with six rebounds and four blocks – much of which came after he got into a scuffle with Marcus Morris. Simply put, Nance looked like he wanted to (figuratively) fight in this game, whereas most of his teammates didn’t seem as interested.
Kevin Love – C+
After making his first two 3-pointers at the start, Love wasn’t much of an offensive factor for the rest of the game. LeBron is in dire need of someone to step up and be a competent sidekick to help shoulder the offensive burden, so 14 points is not going to get it done by Love.
Kyle Korver – C+
Through no fault of his own, Korver didn’t see the floor much in Game 5 – something coach Tyronn Lue weirdly put down to Boston not playing Semi Ojeleye, who was supposed to be Korver’s match-up. In the 19 minutes he did play, the sharpshooter did his usual thing offensively, although he left a few clean looks on the table. Defensively, he continued to hold his own, especially against Jaylen Brown.
Jeff Green – C
For once, Green wasn’t a huge a minus. In fact, he provided a little bit of offence, scoring eight points on 3-of-4 from the field. Cleveland have no choice but to play him because he’s one of their only serviceable wings, but Green can also do better.
Tristan Thompson – C-
He was mostly a non-factor in his 26 minutes as he failed to impact the game like he did back in Cleveland. Part of that may have been due to Aron Baynes being in starting lineup to counteract Thompson’s presence on the glass, but the Cleveland forward didn’t even limit Al Horford on the other end as well as he had been.
Jordan Clarkson – C-
Clarkson started off well by hitting a couple 3s, but couldn’t buy a bucket after that, especially in the fourth quarter when he had a couple looks that would have closed the gap.
George Hill – D+
The Cavaliers’ backcourt was nothing short of horrendous in Game 5, with both Hill and J.R. Smith providing very little. Hill at least got to the free throw line for his seven points, but didn’t attack in the same way he did in Cleveland. The Cavaliers won’t win this series unless Hill puts pressure on Boston’s defence.
J.R. Smith – D
It’s hard to be as bad as Smith was in Game 5. In 26 minutes, he had two points, one assist, one turnover and no rebounds, steals or blocks. He clanked all four his 3s and was generally a zero on offence. And as much as he tried on defence, he was burned constantly by Jayson Tatum.