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NBA playoffs: Celtics take 3–1 series lead over Cavs missing Donovan Mitchell

May 14th, 2024

Jayson Tatum scored 33 points and Jaylen Brown added 27, leading the Boston Celtics to a 109–102 win over the shorthanded Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 4 of their second-round NBA playoff matchup. With the victory, the Celtics have a 3–1 lead in the best-of-seven series with an opportunity to close it out on Wednesday in Boston.

Cleveland faced a major uphill climb without Donovan Mitchell, who was sidelined with a calf strain. Mitchell averaged 29.6 points, 5.4 rebounds and 4.7 assists in Cleveland’s 10 games during this postseason, practically providing a one-man offense. The question for Game 4 was whether or not others could make up that production.

The Cavs put together an admirable group effort to cover for their star’s absence. Darius Garland had his best game of the series, scoring 30 points with seven assists for the Cavs. Evan Mobley finished with 19 and nine rebounds, with Caris LeVert and Max Strus each adding 15. Strus also compiled seven rebounds and seven assists, but fouled out with 1:15 remaining in the game.

Ultimately, a Cleveland team that had difficulties scoring even with Mitchell on the floor and little depth in the lineup (the bench contributed 17 points) faltered. The Cavs were also without Jarrett Allen, who’s missed seven consecutive games with a right rib contusion.

Outside shooting has been a problem for Cleveland during the playoffs. But with Mitchell out and scoring needing to come from different sources, those long-range shots began falling in the first quarter. Strus went 2-for-2 and Sam Merrill shot 2-for-3, while Mobley and Georges Niang hit their lone attempts.

That helped the Cavaliers score 30 points in the quarter, staying within seven points of Boston. Yet Garland continued his inconsistent postseason, going scoreless in the first.

Strus stayed hot in the second quarter, finishing the first half going 5-for-6 on 3-pointers. Coming into the series, he shot 27% (5-for-18) on his attempts. Garland joined the party as well, hitting two shots from deep.

The hot shooting and aggressive defense by the Cavs helped them to keep the game close, trailing 62–57 at halftime.

Game 5 of the Cavaliers-Celtics series is scheduled for Wednesday in Boston. Tip-off is at 7 p.m. ET with the telecast on TNT.

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