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

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

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CLEVELAND, OHIO – MAY 13: Jayson Tatum #0 of the Boston Celtics and Luke Kornet #40 of the Boston Celtics high five during the third quarter of game four of the Eastern Conference second round playoffs at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse on May 13, 2024 in Cleveland Ohio. NOTE TO USER: The user expressly acknowledges and agrees that by downloading or using this photograph, the user agrees to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Nick Cammett/Getty Images)

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

Cleveland faced a major 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 this postseason, virtually providing a one-man offense. The question for Game 4 was whether others could complete that production.

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

In the end, a Cleveland team that was struggling to score even with Mitchell on the court and little depth in the lineup (the bench contributed 17 points) faltered. The Cavs were also without Jarrett Allen, who missed seven straight games with a right rib contusion.

Outside shooting has been a problem for Cleveland throughout the playoffs. But with Mitchell out and scoring needing to come from different sources, those long-range shots started to fall in the first quarter. Strus was 2-for-2 and Sam Merrill was 2-for-3, while Mobley and Georges Niang made their only attempts.

That helped the Cavaliers score 30 points in the quarter, staying within seven points of Boston. However, Garland continued his inconsistent postseason run and went scoreless in the first.

Strus stayed hot in the second quarter, finishing the first half 5 of 6 on three-pointers. Coming into the series, he shot 27% (5 of 18) on attempts from him. Garland also joined the party and hit two shots from deep.

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

Game 5 of the Cavaliers-Celtics series is scheduled for Wednesday in Boston. Kickoff is at 7 pm ET with the telecast on TNT.

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