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Celtics-Cavs takeaways: C’s fall flat in another Game 2 defeat

May 10th, 2024

Celtics-Cavs takeaways: C’s fall flat in another Game 2 defeat originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

BOSTON — Another series, another Game 2 loss at home for the Boston Celtics.

The C’s fell to the Cleveland Cavaliers at TD Garden on Thursday night, tying the Eastern Conference semifinals series at 1-1 as it shifts to Cleveland for Game 3. After dominating the series opener, Boston struggled to find its rhythm on either end of the floor in Game 2. It shot an uncharacteristic 41.3 percent from the floor compared to the Cavs’ 54.7 percent.

Boston fought back to tie the game at halftime after trailing early, but Cleveland took control in the third quarter. The Cavs caught fire from beyond the arc in the frame (7-10 3-PT) while the Celtics went ice-cold (0-8 3-PT). That turned out to be the difference in the 118-94 defeat.

Donovan Mitchell dropped a game-high 29 points for the Cavs. Evan Mobley and Caris LeVert also had big nights with 21 points each.

Jayson Tatum led the C’s with 25 points, but it was another off shooting night (7-17 FG) for Boston’s superstar. Jaylen Brown added 19 points while Payton Pritchard chipped in 13 off the bench.

The Celtics will look to bounce back and take a 2-1 series lead Saturday in Cleveland. Tip-off for Game 3 is set for 8:30 p.m. ET.

Before we look ahead to that matchup, here are three takeaways from Game 2:

Live by the 3, die by the 3

The Celtics are 58-7 this season when they shoot above 32 percent from deep. They’re now 6-12 when they shoot below that threshold.

It was an uncharacteristic shooting night for the C’s with Al Horford (3-7 3-PT) as their only player with more than two 3-pointers made. They shot a woeful 8-for-35 (22.9 percent) from beyond the arc — their worst 3-point shooting performance since Feb. 27 vs. Philadelphia (22.7 percent). That was their lowest 3-point percentage of the season.

The Cavs, on the other hand, were an efficient 13-for-28 (46.4 percent) from 3. According to Ryan Bernardoni, NBA teams are 102-6 this season when making 20 percent or more of their 3-pointers than their opponent.

Most of the damage was done in the third quarter when Boston missed all eight of its 3-point attempts. Cleveland went a blistering 7-of-10 in the frame.

No resistance in the paint

The Celtics lost Game 2 to the Miami Heat because they allowed them to make a franchise playoff record 23 3-pointers. Although the 3s were a major issue yet again, they dropped Game 2 to the Cavs largely because they were pummeled in the paint.

Cleveland set the tone inside early with 22 of its 30 first-quarter points coming in the paint. Boston, meanwhile, struggled to find its groove inside.

By the midway point in the third quarter, the Cavs had more points in the paint (44) than they had in all of Game 1 (42). They ended up with 60 to the Celtics’ 44.

This was the first game since Kristaps Porzingis’ calf injury that the 7-foot-3 star’s absence was glaring. Rim protection will be a point of emphasis heading into Game 3.

Jayson Tatum’s shooting woes continue

Tatum’s playoff shooting slump became the subject of criticism after his 7-for-19 performance in Game 1. While he played a key role when the offense looked sharp in the first half, he did little to quiet his naysayers in Game 2.

Tatum was aggressive early, getting to the free-throw line often and tallying five of his eight first-quarter points from the charity stripe. That continued in the second as he finished the first half 8-of-10 from the line, but just 3-for-10 from the floor. He was on triple-double watch with 16 points, six rebounds, and four assists through the first two frames. When he wasn’t scoring, his presence was felt through his playmaking.

The five-time All-Star finished with a team-high 25 points, albeit on a less-than-stellar 7-of-17 clip. He’s now shooting a subpar 40.7 percent from the floor and 26.8 percent from 3-point range in the 2024 playoffs.

Tatum’s teammates dismissed the notion that his shooting struggles have been hurting the team. C’s president Brad Stevens said during Celtics Pregame Live that he “isn’t losing sleep” over his star’s playoff numbers. However, it’s fair to wonder how much further Boston can go in the postseason with Tatum shooting this poorly.

This content was originally sourced and posted at Yahoo! Sports – News, Scores, Standings, Rumors, Fantasy Games »
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