Three Takeaways After Celtics Punch Conference Finals Ticket Vs. Cavs

0 6

BOSTON — The Celtics only needed five games, once again, this time to finish off the limping Cavaliers and secure their spot in the Eastern Conference finals on Wednesday night at TD Garden.

Defeating Cleveland, 113-98 in Game 5, secured Boston’s third consecutive trip to the conference finals and the fifth in the last seven seasons under the Jayson Tatum-Jaylen Brown era. It improved the entirety of this season’s Celtics, postseason included, to 72-20, and brings them right back where they were last season: four wins shy of an NBA Finals appearance.

“Everybody wants to win until its really time to win, and then you have to nut up and and do a bunch of (expletive) that you don’t want to do,” Celtics head coach Joe Mazzulla said. “The guys, credit to them. They consistently do that. We just have to keep that up. Every game’s going to be different, every series is going to be different, regardless who we play.”

Here are three takeaways from Celtics-Cavaliers Game 5:

Story continues below advertisement

1. Old friend Marcus Morris Sr. came to play
The most out-of-the-blue performance came from ex-Celtics forward Marcus Morris Sr., who joined the Cavaliers after the dust settled at the end of February’s trade deadline.

Morris took the initiative for Cleveland, right away, by shooting with confidence, getting chatty with Boston’s Jaylen Brown, and keeping the Cavaliers competitive into the fourth quarter. In the regular season, Morris didn’t score over 17 points, but as Cleveland’s rotational options became limited in the wake of their piling injury list, the door opened for the 13-year veteran to have himself a night.

Playing 34 minutes off the bench, more than two of Cleveland’s starters, Morris scored 25 points on 10-of-13 shooting, including 5-of-6 from 3-point range, with three rebounds and two steals.

“Just being a veteran, just staying ready,” Morris told reporters, per team-provided video. “That’s always been me since I’ve been in the league. Just staying ready, being professional and then when my times called, just being able to deliver and help my team.”

Story continues below advertisement

2. Al Horford injected new life into a dead TD Garden crowd
Boston hasn’t worried about the absence of Kristaps Porzingis dating back to its first-round elimination of the Miami Heat, and a major part of fighting through missing the offense’s No. 3 option is Al Horford.

Horford (clearly) wanted no part of a Game 6 in Cleveland. The 37-year-old delivered hustle play after hustle play, staying engaged on both ends of the floor whether by fighting Cavaliers center Evan Mobley for a steal or rushing to save an out-of-bounds play and give the C’s an extra possession — both came in the second quarter. He did everything he could and it paid off.

“It’s special when you’re here at the Garden. This is something that I just don’t take for granted,” Horford explained when asked about his relationship with Boston. “The energy of the fans. Our fans, they love the Celtics. They want us to play hard, they want to play the right way. And I just felt very connected with them tonight. With the way that we were playing, that we got it going, I felt like that connection was there. And there was a few times where I wanted to be embraced by them in those moments.”

Story continues below advertisement

The unofficial sixth Celtics starter finished with a 22-point, 15-rebound double-double, becoming the third player in NBA history over 37 years of age to score 20-plus points, grab 15-plus rebounds, and log five-plus assists in a playoff game, according to Jared Weiss of The Athletic — the other two are LeBron James and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

“Al is vocal as he is inspirational,” Mazzulla said. “And so when he plays the ways he does, it’s contagious. Everybody has different ways in which they lead and you saw Al, the gifts that God gave him, and his ability to impact people around him. He did at a high level today.”

3. Boston avoided Donovan Mitchell, but couldn’t dodge a classic Tony Brothers postseason moment
Jayson Tatum’s no stranger to giving referees an earful any given night, so when Tony Brothers held the whistle after a second-quarter 3-point basket, nearly everyone knew what to expect next.

Tatum rose from the ground after draining an in-your-face three over Cleveland’s Darius Garland, and waived off Brothers, earning a technical foul whistle. Boston took a 58-52 lead with 4.2 seconds left before halftime, and Celtics fans let Brothers know how they felt about the call.

Story continues below advertisement

“Ref, you (expletive)!” the TD Garden crowd chanted.

The questionable call and short-tempered Brothers trigger didn’t faze Tatum or the Celtics. Tatum shook off the encounter and proceeded to end the night with 25 points and 10 rebounds — notching his eighth double-double this postseason — while recording a game-high four steals in 43 minutes.

Eight wins down, eight left to go.

- Advertisement -

- Advertisement -

- Advertisement -

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.