Cavaliers give homecourt advantage back to Celtics with 106-93 loss 
            BY TIM SHIRER
(CLEVELAND, OH) - Thursday night in Boston the Cleveland Cavaliers did something that few outside of the organization thought they could do. They stole game two of their second round series with the Boston Celtics in Boston at TD Garden in a blowout 118-94.

Saturday night the series moved to Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse where the Cavs attempted to go up 2-1 on the number one seeded Celtics. However that did not work out as they are now down 2-1 and gave the home court back to Boston with the Celtics prevailing 106-93.

The Cavs took the first lead of the game on a three by Donovan Mitchell at the 10:37 mark to open the scoring. The Cavs extended the lead to 6-2 when Mitchell hit another three with 9:59 left. The Celtics then went on a quick 8-2 run to take a 10-8 lead courtesy of a Jayson Tatum three with 8:37 left in the opening quarter. The Cavs regained the lead 11-10 when Evan Mobley scored on a nice pass from Isaac Okoro and was fouled with 8:16 left. With 5:44 left the Celtics took a 14-11 lead on a jumper in the paint by Jaylon Brown. With 4:18 left Mobley was fouled by Luke Kornet, he hit both and the Cavs regained the lead 15-14. The Celtics then went on a mini 8-3 run and took a 22-18 lead on a layup by Tatum. The Cavs took a timeout with 3:08 left to get things back on track. Right out of the time out with 2:42 left Max Strus on a pass from Dean Wade got the Cavs to within 22-21 with a three pointer from the corner. Wade returning to action after missing several weeks with akee injury. After the Celtics hit a three Mitchell hit one and once again pulled the Cavs to within one at 25-24 when Mitchell hit his third three of the quarter with 1:59 left in the first quarter. The Cavs then took the lead back 26-25 when Darius Garland was fouled and hit both free throws with 1:39 left. The lead changed again when the Celtics Payton Pritchard drove the lane putting the Celtics ahead 28-26 with :37.8 remaining. As time ran out in the first quarter the Celtics led 30-28. Tatum led all scorers with 12 first quarter points. Mitchell led the Cavs with 11. Boston had a slight edge on the boards 10-9 and led scoring in the paint 14-6. 

Garland tied the game 30-30 with 11:34 left in the second quarter on a finger roll. The game went back and forth for the next several minutes with the Celtics taking the lead and the Cavs tying it until with 9:05 left Boston opened a 37-32 lead on a three pointer by superstar Sam Hauser. With 6:53 left the Cavs cut the Celtic lead to 41-38 on another three by Mitchell, his fifth of the first half. With 6:42 left the Cavs were called for an illegal defense. The Celtics Derrick White shot the free throw and made it, immediately after the Celtics had possession and Jrue Holiday hit a three and then after a Cavs miss Brown hit a jumper and suddenly the Celtics lead was nine at 47-38 with 5:58 remaining. After several bad, but very predictable calls that went in favor of Boston the RMFH crowd erupted in the “refs you suck” chant. With 1:56 left the Celtics took a double digit lead 53-43 on a fadeaway jumper by Tatum. The Cavs cut the lead to 55-48 with :57.8 left in the half when Mitchell drained his sixth three of the first half, he 23 points. When time ran out in the half the Celtics had a 57-48 lead. Mitchell led all scorers with 23 points. Tatum paced the Celtics with 18, Holiday also had 15 for Boston. The Celtics continued to lead on the boards 23-18 and in the paint outscoring the Cavs 30-18. The Cavs shot a miserable 33% (8 of 24) in the second quarter while the Celtics shot 53% (10 of 19) from the field. Boston finished the half shooting 54% (22 of 41) from the field in the half while the Cavs shot 39% (17 of 44). Aside from Mitchell shooting 6 of 8 from three-point range the rest of the Cavs were 2 of 15 in the opening half.  

The Celtics opened the third quarter on an 8-0 run as the Cavs could not hit the broad side of a barn missing their first three shots and Boston converted their first three. Bickerstaff saw the game slipping away and called a timeout with 10:13 left on the clock and the Celtics leading 65-48. Immediately after the timeout with 9:46 left the Celtics extended their lead to 68-48 and then just :40 later 71-48 and the hope of a Cavs comeback looked bleak. None of the energy the Cavs showed in Boston was translating through two and a half quarters. The Cavs finally made a shot from the field with 8:39 remaining and went on a 7-0 mini run to cut the Celtics lead to 71-55. Boston bench boss Joe Mazzulla took a timeout to squelch the Cavs momentum. The run continued for the Cavs and was at 12-4 cutting the Boston lead to 75-63 with 3:33 left after a Mitchell jumper in the paint. When the clock ran out in the third quarter the Cavs trailed 84-69 and it looked like all the Celtics had to do was run the clock out in the fourth quarter as the Cavs simply looked overmatched. Mitchell was still leading everyone in scoring with 30 points. Tatum led Boston with 27 through three. The Cavs shooting did improve in the quarter shooting 45% (9 of 20).

The Cavs cut the Celtics lead to 84-73 with 11:01 left on a pass from Garland to Mobley in the paint and then to 84-75 with 10:29 left when Mobley pulled down a rebound on a Garland miss. Boston immediately took a timeout. For the next several minutes the two teams traded points with Cavs not being able to close the gap to less than nine. The Cavs were shooting better in the second half the problem was they were playing little to know defense which made it tough to close the gap after the Celtics opened the half on a 14-0 run. With 5:41 left Bickerstaff called a timeout with the Cavs trailing 94-84. With 3:33 remaining the Celtics took a timeout up 100-89. The most concerning part in the final minutes was the noticeable limp by Mitchell. With 2:14 left and the Celtics leading 104-89 the result was apparent and the sellout crowd at RMFH began to file out of the arena. As the clock wound down the Cavs surrendered home court advantage back to the Celtics as Boston secured the 106-93 win.

Mitchell and Brown had 33 points apiece, Browns were more meaningful as Mitchell’s were in a losing effort, but not because of Mitchell. Mitchell shot 55% (12 of 22) while the rest of the Cavs shot 39% (24 of 62). On the other hand, the Celtics had multiple contributors along with Tatum, was Brown with 28 and Holiday 18.

Boston outrebounded the Cavs 44-35, the Cavs cannot matchup with any team on the boards with the absence of Jarrett Allen who was out again with a rib issue. Points in the paint wasn’t a problem as Boston edged the Cavs 50-48. There has been a lot of talk around the NBA this week as to whether big market teams have the advantage when it comes to foul calls, this game was not one of them as both teams had 14 personal fouls and Boston shot 14 free throws while the Cavs shot 10 which is not a big advantage. The Cavs were simply outplayed. 

Game four will be Monday night at 7 pm at RMFH when the Cavs will attempt to tie the series up. 
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​POSTED 05/11/2024 23:30 
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Cavaliers Donovan Mitchell hits a first quarter three pointer.  
                                                                                      Photo by Tommy Shirer