CLEVELAND (Reuters) - The Boston Celtics pushed the Cleveland Cavaliers to the brink of elimination on Tuesday and one step closer to an off-season that will determine where the team's top player, LeBron James, will play next season.
James is one of a number of high-profile players who could opt for free agency this year, and many experts feel anything short of a trip to the finals should weigh heavily on whether the six-times All-Star is wearing a new uniform next season.
Boston bottled up James and cruised to a convincing 120-88 victory over the top-seeded Cavaliers in front of a home crowd that booed its team off the court.
Game Six will be played in Boston on Thursday. The winner of this series will play the Orlando Magic in the Eastern Conference final.
"We cannot come back (to Cleveland)," Boston forward Kevin Garnett told reporters. "We have to think this is our Game Seven coming up. We can't afford to have the best team in the league come back to their home floor."
The two Eastern Conference rivals had traded wins through the first four games, but the veteran Celtics caught fire at the right time to capture their second straight.
Point guard Rajon Rondo was the focus entering the night after he tormented Cleveland with a triple-double in Game Four, but it was Paul Pierce who broke out of a slump with 21 points and 11 rebounds.
The Cavaliers led early and were up by eight in the second quarter before a 16-0 run gave the visitors control.
Boston carried their momentum into the third where they opened the quarter with a 12-2 spurt to go by 16 and they never looked back.
(Writing by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles; Editing by Frank Pingue)