When Celtics left door open, Cavs tripped over the welcome mat: Doug Lesmerises

CLEVELAND, Ohio — As the blue shoes of the Cavaliers’ Jordan Clarkson rose from the court at TD Garden from just behind the 3-point line on Wednesday night in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals, the following facts were in play:* The Cavs trailed Boston by 12 with 6:56 left, and after giving up a 9-0 run to let the Cavs back in the game, the Celtics were looking shaky.* LeBron James had led a 3-on-3 break and decided to give Clarkson the ball.* Clarkson had been a DNP in the previous game in Boston, Ty Lue gluing him to the bench for the entirety of the Game 2 loss.* Clarkson had made 11 of 39 3-pointers in the playoffs to that point, a 28 percent success rate which ranked him behind any other Cavalier who is playing real minutes in the postseason and who shoots jumpers.* Clarkson, who scored 14.5 points with the Lakers and 12.6 points once he was traded to the Cavs, should have been the most reliable offensive player to emerge from the Kyrie Irving trade, the last stop of an offensive descent from Irving to Isaiah Thomas to Clarkson.* Clarkson had entered Game 5 averaging five points per game in the playoffs.* At some point in Game 5, Clarkson was probably feeling it. He made 3-pointers on consecutive possessions in a 31-second span in the middle of the second quarter, whittling the Boston lead to eight both times.* He would take eight other shots in Game 5, and make one.* So Clarkson was 2-for-5 on 3-point tries in Game 5 as the ball came of his hands, with Terry Rozier flying at him.* Kyle Korver, the Cavs’ best 3-point shooter, was trailing the play and pulling up at the 3-point line with his hands extended and no Celtic near him.* If the shot went in, the Cavs had life. The shot did not go in.* The Cavs forced a shot-clock violation on Boston’s next possession with a savvy double-team of Al Horford.* The parameters spelled out previously remained in place as Clarkson, 35 seconds after his last miss, rose again from the same spot on the floor.* Again, the shot did not go in.The Cavs’ defensive woes have been well-documented, and Lue’s belief that Boston shooting 36.5 Wednesday was some proof of defensive success wasn’t quite true. But the fact is, the Celtics gave the Cavs a chance, and they didn’t take it.Consider this — from 10:02 to 5:50 in the fourth quarter, a stretch of more than four minutes during winning time — the only Cavalier who scored was Jeff Green. He had six points as the Cavs stuck with a lineup of James, Green, Korver, Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr.

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