The Boston Celtics have been able to overcome large deficits all season long, but there would be no comeback Monday night at Quicken Loans Arena.
The Celtics spent the bulk of the game chipping away at the Cleveland Cavaliers’ lead, which grew as large as 19. But in the end, the Cavs managed to fend off the C’s to earn a 111-102 win in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals.
LeBron James was a force to be reckoned with, scoring a game-high 42 points. Despite five Celtics scoring in double figures, including Jaylen Brown’s team-high 25 points, Boston dropped its second straight loss in Cleveland.
With the Celtics’ loss, the best-of-seven series now is tied at two games apiece.
Here’s how it all went down:
PG: Terry Rozier
SG: Jaylen Brown
SF: Jayson Tatum
PF: Marcus Morris
C: Al Horford
For the second game in a row, the Celtics got off to a terrible start. After the two teams traded baskets in the opening minutes, the Cavs went on a 10-0 run midway through the quarter and held a 34-18 lead after one frame.
Boston shot an abysmal 26.9 percent from the field in the first, while Cleveland was red-hot with a 60 percent clip. James led all scorers with 11 first-quarter points, while no Celtic scored more than four. The Cavs also dominated the paint to the tune of a 17-8 rebounding advantage.
CAVS KILL RALLY
Cleveland stretched its lead to as large as 19 early in the second, but Boston chipped away and cut the deficit to nine with just under four minutes remaining in the quarter. The Cavs fought off the change in momentum, though, outscoring their opponent 13-7 in the remainder of the frame to take a 68-53 lead into the break.
James continued his strong night with another 11-point quarter, but a pair of role players chipped in for the Cavaliers as well. Kyle Korver posted 12 second-quarter points — nine from beyond the arc — while Tristan Thompson controlled the interior and pitched in six points. After being held scoreless in the first, Tatum registered six points in the frame, as did Brown and Rozier.
The Cavs finally turned in a less-than-stellar quarter, but the Celtics failed to capitalize. Despite only hitting seven shots in the third, Cleveland kept Boston from getting over the hump and took an 89-76 lead into the fourth.
Boston didn’t do itself any favors in the frame, committing nine fouls. A bevy of trips to line helped James collect 13 points in the third, which accounted for more than half of the Cavs’ points in the quarter. Tatum carried the offensive load for Boston with 11 points in the frame.
CLOSE, BUT NO CIGAR
The Celtics hung tough throughout the fourth and cut the Cavaliers’ lead to seven via a Marcus Smart bucket with 4:29 left to play. But as was the theme throughout the game, Boston simply couldn’t get over the hump. Cleveland knocked down two quick buckets after Smart’s layup to swell its lead back to 11. From there, the home team kept its foot on the gas to preserve the victory.
PLAY OF THE GAME
The series shifts back to Boston for Game 5 on Wednesday night. Tip-off from TD Garden is set for 8:30 p.m. ET.
Thumbnail photo via Ken Blaze/USA TODAY Sports