Mitchell has 33 points, but Cavaliers can’t contain Tatum and Brown in Game 3 loss to Celtics – Metro US

Mitchell has 33 points, but Cavaliers can’t contain Tatum and Brown in Game 3 loss to Celtics

Celtics Cavaliers Basketball
Cleveland Cavaliers’ Donovan Mitchell reacts after a basket against the Boston Celtics during the first half of Game 3 of an NBA basketball second-round playoff series Saturday, May 11, 2024, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

CLEVELAND (AP) — Slouched in a chair in front of his corner locker, Donovan Mitchell’s white leggings were torn and there was a blood stain near his right knee.

His healthy knee.

Mitchell scored 33 points in another stellar performance, but Cleveland’s All-Star guard didn’t get nearly enough help as the Cavaliers were outgunned by the Boston Celtics, who won Game 3 106-93 on Saturday night t o take a 2-1 lead in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

Mitchell appeared to aggravate a left knee injury in the fourth quarter and wasn’t even on the floor for the finish. With the Celtics up by 13, he headed straight to the locker room for treatment with Game 4 on Monday less than 48 hours away.

The Cavs couldn’t duplicate their strong Game 2 performance in Boston, and were doomed on their home court by a slow start in the third quarter when the Celtics scored the first 14 points and opened a 23-point lead.

“There’s a bunch of things that we could have done better,” Mitchell said, glancing at the box score. “We got 36 3-pointers (attempts) so offensively, we’ve got to shoot a little better. Defensively we held them to 106, but it felt crazier because of those spurts.”

Jayson Tatum (33) and Jaylen Brown (28) combined for 61 points to carry the Celtics, who made 13 3-pointers after going just 8 of 35 on 3s in Game 2.

Mitchell tried to counter Tatum and Brown by making 7 of 12 3-pointers. But he was the only Cleveland player showing any range as the rest of the Cavs went a combined 5 of 24 from beyond the arc.

Evan Mobley scored 17 points, but the Celtics did a much better job containing him than in Game 2. Boston switched bigger defenders on the 22-year-old who is having to handle center duties with Jarrett Allen still nursing a rib injury.

Darius Garland was just 6 of 15 from the floor, missing on some drives he’d like to have back.

Cleveland’s biggest problem was its inability to stop Tatum and Brown when it mattered most.

“They’re going to get shots,” Garland said. “That’s their two guys. They’re going to make shots, so just try to do whatever we can and make it difficult for them to get to the rim or make ’em take tough twos.”

For the most part, the Cavs did that. But after Cleveland cut Boston’s lead to nine in the fourth quarter, Tatum and Brown took turns hitting big shots.

“You got to make it tough, and I thought we did that,” Cavs coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “I thought both of them hit some really difficult shots. They went into iso and took mid-range turnaround, contested twos that our guys challenged them on. They make those because they’re elite offensive players.”

The Cavs had success with a smaller lineup in the second half as Dean Wade returned after missing two months with a knee injury.

Wade hit his first 3-pointer and played well enough in 16 minutes that he may get more going forward.

“Thought he was really good in his minutes, not playing basketball for eight weeks, having the confidence to come in and first shot was a catch and shoot,” Bickerstaff said about Wade. “That was a good sign for him. He did a really good job being who he is, defensively guard multiple positions and then helping us keep our offense moving.”

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