The Cleveland Cavaliers were facing an uphill battle in Game 4 of their second round series against the Boston Celtics, especially because they had star guard Donovan Mitchell unavailable due to injury.

The Celtics got off to a strong start in the first half, finding themselves up by as much as 13 points in the second quarter, but the stubborn Cavaliers would simply not let up.

Cleveland went on a run midway through the second quarter behind Max Strus’ hot shooting, as he went on to hit five of six attempts from long range to finish with 15 points at the half.


Caris LeVert also chipped in 12 points while shooting 6 of 11 over the first two quarter. Darius Garland, who struggled with his shot early, started to get hot near the end of the second quarter as well, hitting a couple of big threes.

However, the best player on the floor in that first half was Jayson Tatum, who had 23 points, five rebounds, three assists, a steal and a block on 8 of 14 shooting. He got himself into hot water with less than a minute left in the first half thanks to a technical foul after complaining about what he felt was a missed call. He’d finish the game with 33 points, 11 rebounds, five assists, two steals and a block.


Cleveland’s dogged defense would keep them in the game in the first half. While they were never able to regain the lead by halftime, they had made a game out of it and were only behind 62-57 at the half.

Cleveland took the lead back briefly in the third quarter but Celtics retook it and led by 10 heading into the fourth quarter.

The Celtics weren’t going to lay down and just let the Cavs take control, though. Jaylen Brown started to get it going in the second half, too, which helped Boston regain their composure as they rebuilt a double-digit lead.

Jrue Holiday made some killer threes of his own in the second half, and finished with 16 points, seven rebounds, five assists and three steals for a great all-around game.

The lack of firepower became more and more of an issue for Cleveland as the Celtics started to pull away again in the fourth quarter. The Cavs stayed stubborn as they made one last push halfway through the fourth quarter though, cutting the lead to 100-93 with less than five minutes left in the game.

Cleveland had a chance to cut it down even further after Garland was fouled on a drive, but Boston elected to use their challenge on the play, which was successful. The Celtics couldn’t build up their lead, though, which let the Cavaliers cut it to 100-95 with just three minutes left.

Unfortunately for the home team, they kept losing the battle for hustle rebounds which let the Celtics maintain a lead. Still only down five, Cleveland were the ones who successfully used a challenge with 1:39 left in the game as Brown went up for an unnatural shooting motion with Garland guarding him.

Strus tried to take a quick three to cut the lead to two, but he missed and then fouled out immediately after while fighting Brown for the offensive rebound. Brown hit a dagger three in the ensuing play which gave the Celtics a more comfortable 105-97 lead. Brown would end the game with 27 points and eight rebounds while shooting 9 of 15 overall.