Donovan Mitchell drops 30 points again, but Cavaliers fall in Game 3 at home to Celtics

In a swing Game 3, the Cleveland Cavaliers cannot find enough help to support Donovan Mitchell's 30-point night and Evan Mobley's continued surge.
Boston Celtics v Cleveland Cavaliers - Game Three
Boston Celtics v Cleveland Cavaliers - Game Three / Jason Miller/GettyImages

Final. 106. 18. Cavs lose Game 3 2024 Celtics. 93. 156

The Cleveland Cavaliers were overwhelmed by the Boston Celtics, falling for the first time at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse during this Playoff run and to a 2-1 deficit in the East semifinals.

Donovan Mitchell’s long-range jumper was working, knocking down seven of his 12 three-point attempts. Mobley had a decent performance despite reaggravating a present ankle injury. Unfortunately, the rest of the Cavaliers were deadweight for long stretches.

As expected, following a Cavs victory at TD Garden on Friday, the Celtics came out powerfully, giving credence to Denver Nuggets coach Michael Malone’s recent comments: “You can’t just flush an a** whooping.”

Early, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Jrue Holiday produced for the visiting attack. On the Cavs’ side, Mitchell uncorked the offense with back-to-back triples, and Mobley pressured the rim, carrying the group. Then the Wine and Gold offense sputtered, supplying 33 percent of attempted shots as the Celtics outscored them by seven and were 23 percent more accurate from the field in the second quarter.

At halftime, the Cavaliers were down 48-57 and behind on the glass by six. Mitchell and Mobley combined for 12-of-19 shots. Besides them, the Cavaliers converted five baskets in 25 tries.

Subsequently, the Celtics scored eight straight points with no answer, nearly 2 minutes out of intermission before the Cavaliers called timeout. It briefly got worse for the hosts after that as the Celtics hit two more triples before a Cavaliers response of nine straight points.

Yet, the Cavaliers entered the fourth quarter behind 69-84 on the scoreboard, but three quick field goals by Garland and Mobley forced Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla to call timeout. Then the visitors closed the game registering nine of 16 baskets to close.

The Cavaliers lost 93-106. Additionally, the squad had 48 paint points, eight on the break, nine via second chances, seven off turnovers and 20 from the bench.

The Celtics had 50 interior points, 12 in the open court, 12 on extra tries, six off turnovers and 13 from the reserves.

Here’s how it transpired…

No answers for Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Jrue Holiday

Tatum dribbled by defenders to the cup for layups and dunks, plus swished contested mid and long-range jumpers. While his three-point shot still evades him, he has consistently impacted the Celtics with his dynamic and silky moves around the hoop and in the mid-range. He took advantage of his size advantage over Max Strus and Isaac Okoro, knocking down contested mid-range shots off a good jab and fadeaway.

Brown’s deep and mid-range shot was also on target in the half-court and scored eight points on the break. He finished the night with 28 points, nine rebounds and three assists while shooting two-of-three from deep.

Holiday went at Mobley twice at close range to drop a pair of buckets, posted and spun past Caris LeVert for a layup, dribbled by Mitchell in transition for a deuce and drained three trifectas. The three of them combined for 31-of-52 field goals.

Besides Mitchell and Mobley, not enough from everyone else

Mitchell and Mobley were the Cavaliers’ only efficient scorers and creators. The former generated 33 points on 12-of-22 looks, with three dimes to Strus, LeVert and Dean Wade. The latter 17 points on 63.6 percent shooting and sacrificed his body for nine screen assist points. Mobley also led the Cavaliers in rebounds, totaling eight on the evening.

Yet, the Cavaliers could not find any production from the rest of the cast. Darius Garland struggled shooting from deep against a switch and drop coverage, making one of his six trays. Toward the end of the night, he turned up his intensity and used his gravity on drives to find open cutters or shooters. Unfortunately, it was too little, too late, and the Cavs' shooters could not convert on too many open attempts.

Max Strus missed six shots in eight tries as the Celtics contested his jumpers on time and disrupted a paint entry. As Strus continues to struggle this postseason, the Cavaliers are in desperate need to find a rhythm for their newest starter.

Okoro missed all four three-point attempts and made one of three shots inside the arc. Defensively, Okoro held his own as a pseudo-power forward in the starting lineup, often tasked with Tatum or Brown. He only played 18 minutes due to his poor offense, though, the least of any Cleveland starter.

On top of that, the Cavaliers only took 10 free throws, making nine, because the Celtics did a nice job of defending without fouling.

Perimeter defense and rebounding

The Cavs gave up 13-of-34 three-pointers. Over-helping off the arc and not getting over some screens quickly enough was problematic. Furthermore, Brown, Tatum and Derrick White connected on well-guarded triples over small defenders on catch-and-shoot and pull-up opportunities.

The Cavaliers were outworked on the glass by nine and conceded nine offensive rebounds that turned into 12 second-chance points. Dean Wade showed energy on the glass, but his first game back since March 8 showed signs of rust as he was a step slow on the boards.

The Cavaliers made 18-of-33 attempts at the rim, 11.7 points below league average. When coach J.B. Bickerstaff was asked about it at the postgame press conference, he said, “You got to keep attacking… we’re not getting those whistles, so we just got to be aggressive, not play for the foul and go for the finish.”

The Cleveland Cavaliers will look to even the series again as they host the Celtics at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse for Game 4 on Monday, May 13 at 7:00pm Eastern Time.

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