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NBA playoffs: Celtics take 3-1 series lead over Cavs, who were missing Donovan Mitchell

NBA playoffs: Celtics take 3-1 series lead over Cavs, who were missing Donovan Mitchell

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

Cleveland faced a major uphill 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 first 10 games during this postseason, practically providing a one-man offense. The question for Game 4 was whether others could make up that production.

Cleveland was also without Jarrett Allen, who has missed seven consecutive games with a right rib contusion. For the Celtics, Kristaps Porzingis was sidelined for the fifth straight game with a calf injury, but the team is encouraged by him being able to do some light work on the court before Game 4.

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

Cleveland rallied to take a 65–64 lead in the third quarter. However, a team that had difficulties scoring even with Mitchell on the floor and little depth in the lineup (the bench contributed 17 points) ultimately faltered.

Jrue Holiday scored 17 points (shooting 4 for 8 from 3) while Payton Pritchard added 11 from the bench (hitting 3-for-4 3-pointers) for the Celtics.

Outside shooting has been a problem for Cleveland during the playoffs. But with Mitchell out and scoring needing to come from different sources, those long-range shots began falling in the first quarter. Strus went 2 for 2 and Sam Merrill shot 2 for 3, while Mobley and Georges Niang hit their lone attempts.

That helped the Cavaliers score 30 points in the quarter, staying within seven points of Boston. Yet Garland continued his inconsistent postseason, going scoreless in the first.

Strus stayed hot in the second quarter, finishing the first half going 5 for 6 on 3-pointers. Coming into the series, he shot 27% (5 for 18) on his attempts. Garland joined the party as well, hitting two shots from deep.

The hot shooting and…

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