NBA Hoops

Celtics take control of series with Game 4 win vs. Cavaliers

Celtics take control of series with Game 4 win vs. Cavaliers


CLEVELAND — Jayson Tatum scored 33 points with LeBron James watching from a courtside seat, and the Boston Celtics beat the severely short-handed Cleveland Cavaliers 109-102 in Game 4 on Monday night to take a commanding 3-1 lead in their Eastern Conference semifinal series.

Jaylen Brown added 27 for the Celtics, who can close out Cleveland with a win in Game 5 on Wednesday night in Boston.

Game 6, if necessary, would be back at Cleveland’s Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse on Friday.

The Cavs got pushed to the brink of elimination with two top players in street clothes on the bench, as Donovan Mitchell (calf) and Jarrett Allen (ribs) sat out due to injuries.

It was nothing new for a Cleveland team that has dealt with injuries all season, but it was a big ask for the Cavs to try to survive without Mitchell, their All-Star guard who has carried the offensive load throughout the postseason, or Allen, their leading rebounder.

The top-seeded Celtics, who have had a tendency to relax at the wrong time, didn’t show the Cavs much mercy.

Tatum had his second straight strong performance, adding 11 rebounds and five assists. Jrue Holiday put up 16 points for Boston.

Darius Garland scored 30 and Evan Mobley and Caris LeVert 19 apiece for the Cavs, who stayed connected with the Celtics and trailed by only 10 going into the fourth.

Boston went up 15 on a jumper by Brown, but Cleveland responded with a 10-2 run as Garland and Dean Wade made 3-pointers.

The Cavs were still within 102-97 when Brown buried a 3-pointer with 1:08 left, and Boston closed it out at the free throw line.

James, who played 11 seasons in two separate stints for Cleveland, was back in his former home arena — a visit certain to drive speculation about where he might play next. The NBA’s career scoring leader can opt out of his contract with the Los Angeles Lakers this summer, and James has said he hasn’t made any firm decisions.

The 39-year-old sat across from Boston’s bench in between his wife, Savannah, and agent Rich Paul. James got a monstrous ovation from Cleveland’s crowd when he was shown on the scoreboard during a timeout in the first quarter.

Despite dealing with a left knee injury for months, Mitchell averaged 29.6 points in the first 10 playoff games — scoring 50 in a Game 6 loss to the Orlando Magic in the first round.

He injured his left calf in the waning moments of Cleveland’s loss in Game 3 on Saturday and was added to the injury report as…

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