Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Celtics rebound from loss to beat Cavs 106-93 for 2-1 series lead


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CLEVELAND, May 12: Green uniforms. Big shots. Championship-level intensity.The Boston Celtics looked much more like themselves in Game 3.
Jayson Tatum scored 33 points, Jaylen Brown added 28 and the No. 1-seeded Celtics bounced back from a stumble at home, beating the Cleveland Cavaliers 106-93 on Saturday night to take a 2-1 lead in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
The Celtics didn’t mess around after dropping Game 2 on their home parquet floor by 24 on Thursday. They couldn’t.
“We don’t come to Cleveland for the weather, so let’s go,” said Brown, who went 13 of 17 from the field. “There’s nothing complicated about it: Play defense and the rest will take care of itself. We could have done better, but we kept them under 100.”
The lackluster performance — Boston was favored by double digits — in Game 2 was reminiscent of the first round, when the Celtics lost the second game against Miami before winning three in a row to eliminate the Heat.
“Tonight was a great test, an opportunity for us to come out and respond, and play better and harder,” said Tatum, who added 13 rebounds and six assists. “There was a purpose behind every play. We did a good job communicating our actions.” Tatum scored on a three-point play and the Celtics opened the second half with 14 straight points to take a 23-point lead.
That was way too much for the Cavs, who overcame a 22-point deficit in the fourth quarter to stun Boston in March.
“We felt like trying to punch them in the face right away was the right option,” said Jrue Holiday, who scored 15 of his 18 points in the first half. “J.B. (Brown) told us it wasn’t over and we knew that. We’ve been up 20 in the fourth quarter here and they came back and won.”
Donovan Mitchell scored 33 points for Cleveland, but the All-Star guard aggravated a left knee injury in the fourth quarter and was labored. With Boston up 13 and in control, Mitchell left the court with 1:19 left and walked directly to the locker room.
Afterward, Mitchell didn’t say anything about the injury, but bemoaned Cleveland’s slow start after halftime.
“It changed the game,” he said. “Give them credit. They came out with a sense of urgency. It’s tough to come back from that. They came out with an intention.”
Cleveland got within nine three times in the fourth but the Celtics, who went just 8 of 35 on 3-pointers in Game 2, got back-to-back 3s from Payton Pritchard and Derrick White to slow the Cavs’ comeback.
Game 4 is Monday night in Cleveland.
“We need everybody to be on the same page and everybody to come out with the same effort,” Brown said. “The rest will take care of itself because we’ve got enough talent in this locker room.”
Down by 23 and unable to stop Tatum, the Cavs clawed back.
They cut Boston’s lead to 15 by the end of the third, and scored the first six points in the fourth, sending their towel-waving crowd at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse looking for another upset into a frenzy. (AP)


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