Celtics aim to secure series victory over the Cavaliers

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(AP) — After an early stumble to begin Round 2, the Celtics are back home for Wednesday’s Game 5 with a 3-1 series lead over Cleveland, and with a chance to advance to their third consecutive conference final.

Boston is feeling good about how it followed up its Game 2 loss with back-to-back wins in Cleveland. The Celtics didn’t have to contend with Cavaliers’ star Donovan Mitchell, who sat out Monday’s Game 4 with a strained left calf.

But Boston used All-Star Jayson Tatum’s second straight 33-point performance to earn a 109-102 victory in the Celtics’ first game decided by single digits this postseason.

“It felt good. We knew they weren’t just going to go away or back down,” Celtics guard Jrue Holiday said. “So, I think being tested in that way and responding the way we did — we did a pretty good job.”

Cleveland’s mindset is simple, forward Max Strus said.

“Find a way to win. That’s all we can do,” he said.


The Cavs stayed in Game 4 thanks to 30 points and seven assists from Darius Garland, who picked up the offensive load with Mitchell out. But duplicating those numbers may be tough for Garland, who has just two 30-point games in his playoff career. But Boston is just 3-2 at home this postseason. Its two losses at TD Garden were by a combined 34 points.


Three-point shooting. One of the reasons Cleveland competed in Game 4 was its advantage from beyond the arc. The Cavs attempted a team playoff-record 48 3-pointers, connecting on 15. Boston went 12 of 32 from 3, below its NBA-leading average of 38 attempts per game this postseason.


Along with Mitchell, the Cavs also played Game 4 without center Jarrett Allen, out for the seventh consecutive game with the rib injury he sustained last round against Orlando. Boston’s Kristaps Porzingis has also yet to appear in this series as he continues to work back from a strained right calf.


The Cavs are facing elimination for the second time this postseason. Unlike in their Game 7 first-round matchup with Orlando, this time Cleveland will be on the road and possibly without their top star in Mitchell.

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