Celtics ‘bounce back’ with Game 3 road win over Cavaliers


CLEVELAND — Jayson Tatum scored 33 points, Jaylen Brown added 28 and the Boston Celtics looked more like themselves after stumbling at home, beating the Cleveland Cavaliers 106-93 on Saturday night in Game 3 to take a 2-1 lead in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

The top-seeded Celtics didn’t mess around after dropping Game 2 on their home parquet floor by 24.

That lackluster performance — Boston was favored by double digits — was reminiscent of the first round, when the Celtics lost Game 2 against Miami before winning three in a row to eliminate the Heat.

“We just wanted to bounce back,” said Tatum, who added 13 rebounds. “Disappointing loss the other night, coming into a hostile environment on the road. It was a good test for us to see how we respond.”

Tatum scored on a three-point play and the Celtics opened the second half with 14 straight points to take a 23-point lead.

That was way too much for the Cavs, who overcame a 22-point deficit in the fourth quarter to stun Boston in March.

Donovan Mitchell scored 33 points for Cleveland, but the All-Star guard aggravated a left knee injury in the fourth quarter and was labored. With Boston up 13 and in control, Mitchell left the court with 1:19 left and walked directly to the locker room.

Cleveland got within nine three times in the fourth but the Celtics, who went just 8 of 35 on 3-pointers in Game 2, got back-to-back 3s from Payton Pritchard and Derrick White to stave off the Cavs’ comeback.

Game 4 is Monday night in Cleveland.

Down by 23 and unable to stop Tatum, the Cavs clawed back.

They cut Boston’s lead to 15 by the end of the third and scored the first six points in the fourth, sending their towel-waving crowd at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse looking for another upset into a frenzy.

But whenever the Celtics needed a bucket, they went to either Tatum or Brown, who broke down Cleveland’s defense for layups or made tough, contested jumpers.

Evan Mobley added 17 points and Darius Garland and Caris LeVert 15 apiece for the Cavs, who lost for the first time at home in these playoffs.

Cleveland was again without starting center Jarrett Allen, who missed his sixth straight game with a painful rib injury. Allen has been out since Game 4 of the opening-round series against Orlando and there’s no telling when — or if — he’ll be available.

Mitchell made six 3-pointers and scored 23 in the first half to pace the Cavs, but Cleveland didn’t get nearly enough from the rest of its starters or bench as the Celtics opened a 57-48 halftime lead.

After the Celtics were stunned on their home floor in Game 2 despite being heavy favorites, coach Joe Mazzulla said the message to his players heading into Game 3 was simple.

“Do what you do best, and do it better,” he said.

The Celtics started cold again, missing their first two 3-pointers before making 5 of 8 to take a 30-28 lead after one.

Cleveland got a nice early lift as forward Dean Wade made his postseason debut after missing the past two months with a sprained knee. Wade, who scored a career-high 23 against Boston on March 5 when the Cavs overcame a 22-point deficit in the fourth quarter, knocked down a 3-pointer on his first touch.

Boston center Kristaps Porzingis missed his fourth straight game with a calf strain.


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