Lamar Stevens late heroics lead Cavs to 118-114 win over Celtics in OT 
            BY TIM SHIRER
(CLEVELAND, OH) - The Cleveland Cavaliers (40-26, 20-7 home) entered Monday night’s contest at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse against the visiting Boston Celtics (45-20, 20-11 road) in fourth place in the Eastern Conference one game ahead of the sizzling hot New York Knicks. This season the Cavs and Celtics have met three times with Cavs winning two of three. The Celtics won the last matchup in Boston on March 1st 117-113.

The Celtics were without stars Jayson Tatum and Al Horford. The Cavs were healthy. There was some concern prior to the game if Donovan Mitchell would play after injuring his finger on Saturday night. Things did not look good for the Cavs through three quarters against the shorthanded Celtics, but in a game that could be dubbed the “Lamar Stevens” game the Cavs pulled it out in overtime 118-114 to increase their lead in fourth place on the Knicks to a game and a half in the Eastern conference and to pull within 4.5 games of the Celtics who have now lost three in a row and are 5-5 in their last 10 games.

The Cavs committed four early turnovers that accounted for three Celtics points. But even with the turnover trouble with 7:29 left in the first quarter the Cavs led 9-8 when Evan Mobley deposited a layup after a nice pass from Darius Garland. Another concern for the Cavs was that Jarrett Allen picked up his second personal foul just 4:16 into the contest prompting JB Bickerstaff to replace him with Dean Wade. The Cavs got off to another bad first quarter facing a team without their star. Not a positive sign for a team who expects to make a deep playoff run as the first quarter ended with the Celtics on top 33-26. The Cavs were outplayed in every single phase of the game in the first quarter, where to start? The Cavs turned the ball over seven times resulting in nine Celtic points. Mobley led the Cavs in scoring with 11 points. Jaylen Brown led the Celtics with eight first quarter points. The Cavs allowed the Celtics to shoot 6 for 13 from three-point range.

The second quarter things got even worse as the Celtics increased their lead to 48-35 with 8:29 left when Grant Williams hit a three, Boston’s tenth of the game. The Cavs cut the Boston lead to 55-48 with 5:10 left in the first half on a three by Cedi Osman. The Celtics built their lead back 15 points at 68-53. The Cavs managed to cut it to 68-56 after a Mitchell three which was the score at the half. Mitchell led all scorers with 19 points. Browns led the Celtics with 15 first points, Malcom Brogdon had 14 for Boston. The only thing the Cavs did well in the firs quarter was outrebound Boston 15-9. That changes in the second quarter as Boston out rebounded the Cavs 12-6 in the second quarter. The Cavs did do a better job of holding on to the ball in the second as they only committed one turnover. The Celtics outshot the Cavs from the behind the three-point line, the field overall and from the free throw line.

The Cavs cut the lead to 68-60 just 1:15 into the second half on a hook shot by Mobley on an assist from Garland. Boston then called a timeout. But the Celtics came right back and scored the next five points to extend their lead to 73-60 with 9:47 on three pointer from Brown. It was the Celtics 14th three of the game to that point, they weren’t done. The problem for Cleveland was not that they were having a bad game offensively but were struggling big time on the defensive end allowing Boston to score on most possessions in the third quarter never cutting into the Boston lead without relinquishing it quickly. With 3:12 left on the clock in the third quarter the Cavs cut the Boston lead to 86-76 when Mitchell deposited a layup, was fouled and converted the free throw. One thing that was apparent was the team that played a double overtime game last night and had to travel were without a doubt playing with more energy and that was the Celtics. The Cavs looked like they were the team that had those issues to deal with. Another issue in the game was the Cavs inability to convert easy chances missing multiple easy uncontested layups and even dunks. When the third quarter buzzer sounded the Celtics had increased their lead to 92-78. Mitchell led all scorers with 29 and Mobley had 19. Brown led Boston with 22 points at the end of 36 minutes. The Celtics dominated the boards in the third outrebounding Cleveland 18-10 in the third. The Celtics bench thus far had outscored the Cavs 30-12.

With 9:48 left on the clock in the game the Cavs finally showed some life as they cut the lead to 92-84 when Mitchell blocked a Celtics shot, got the rebound sent the ball down the court to Garland who threw bullet to Allen who slammed it home igniting the RMFH crowd. But as has been the theme all-night the Celtics responded and with 7:40 left Boston pushed their lead back to 12 points at 99-87 on what else, a three pointer by Brogdon. With 3:45 left on the clock the Cavs cut the lead to six at 102-96 when Garland drained a long three. Boston took a timeout. Just :25 later Garland cut the Boston lead to three at 102-99. The lead was down to two at 102-100 with 2:53 left when Lamar Stevens hit one of two free throws after being fouled. The Celtics then extended the lead to four at 104-100 with 2:31 left after Mitchell fouled Brogdon and he hit both free throws. After Brown tripped Mitchell, Mitchell drained the free throw to cut the Boston lead to three at 104-101 with 1:44 left. Mitchell was then fouled again with 1:21 left and he sank both to pull the Cavs to within one point at 104-103. After the Celtics scored on their next possession to extend their lead to 106-103, Mitchell drained a jumper to pull the Cavs to within one point at 106-105 with :58 left in the game. Finally, the Cavs took their first lead since the first quarter when Mitchell drained a layup with :24.7 left on the game clock. The Celtics took a timeout to talk it over. Once again, the three point bug got the Cavs as Derrick White was left wide open as someone must have blown an assignment giving the Celtics a 109-107 lead with :14.3 left on the clock. The Cavs took a timeout. After the Cavs inbounded the ball they could do nothing and Mitchell threw the ball of a Celtics. The Cavs then reestablished possession. Mitchell drove the lane missed the shot but was fouled. The Celtics challenged the foul which was unsuccessful and Mitchell headed to the line for two shots with 5.8 left on the game clock in regulation. The potential MVP candidate hit both to tie the game at 109-109. The Celtics missed two shots, on the second shot a foul was called on Stevens. Williams went to the line for two shots missing both sending the game to an improbable overtime.

The Celtics scored first in the OT when Mobley picked up his fourth foul and Brown went to the line shooting three and hitting them all giving Boston the 112-109 lead with 4:16 left in OT. The Cavs closed to within one at 112-11 when Mitchel scored on a fast break layup. The Cavs retook the lead 114-112 with 2:14 left when Steven’s who ignited the team as soon as he entered the game hit a three from in front of the Celtics bench. Stevens then extended the lead to four at 116-112 with 1:47. The Celtics cut lead to 116-114 on driving layup by Brown with :43 left on the OT clock. Garland was fouled with :09.2 left by Brogdon and made both giving the Cavs a 118-114 lead. Boston took a timeout with :06.9 left on the clock. The Celtics did not get off a good shot Mitchell got the rebound and dribbled out the overtime clock.

Stevens played :09 in the first three quarters and the Cavs were down 14 to start the fourth quarter. Steven played every minute of the fourth and every minute in over time helping the Cavs outscore the Celtics 40-22 in those 17 minutes. Steven not only scored eight huge points but pulled down eight big rebounds and had an assist.
Mitchell led everyone in the game in scoring with 40 points. Mobley had 25 and Garland finished with 17 and also had 12 assists giving him the double double. Mitchell also had a double double along with his 40 points he had 11 rebounds. The Cavs who were destroyed on the boards by the Celtics in the first three quarters outrebounded Boston 27-13 in the final quarter and overtime enroute to the win.

Brown had 32 points for Boston and 13 rebounds in the losing effort. Brogdon had 24, White had 12 and Marcus Smart had 11 in the loss.
The Cavs now have 28 wins at RMFH which is the second most wins in the NBA at home just one game behind the Denver Nuggets who had 29 entering tonight’s action.

The Cavs will be in action next on Wednesday with the first of two games in Miami against the Heat at Miami-Dade Arena (formerly known as FTX before the company collapsed) at 7 pm. The two teams will then meet two days later on March 10th at 8 pm. This is the first four road double matchups the Cavs will have in the next 31 days. The other three will be against the Charlotte Hornets (March 12, 14), Brooklyn Nets (March 21, 23) and in the final double match up will be in Orlando against the Magic (April 4, 6). 
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​POSTED 03/06/2023 22:23
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Cavaliers Lamar Stevens and Darius Garland.                   Photo by Tommy Shirer