Celtics take control of series with Game 4 win vs. Cavaliers

CLEVELAND — Jayson Tatum scored 33 points as LeBron James looked on from a courtside seat and the Boston Celtics beat the short-handed Cleveland Cavaliers 109-102 in Game 4 Monday night to take a 3-point lead. 1 in their East semifinal series. .

Jaylen Brown added 27 for the Celtics, who can close out Cleveland with a victory in Game 5 Wednesday night at home.

Game 6, if necessary, would be back at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse on Friday.

The Cavs were pushed to the brink of elimination with two top players in street clothes on the bench, as Donovan Mitchell (calf) and Jarrett Allen (ribs) were out due to injuries.

This was nothing new for a Cleveland team that had to deal with injuries all season, but it was a big ask for the Cavs to try to survive without Mitchell, their All-Star guard who carried the offensive load throughout the playoffs, or Allen, their best rebounder.

The top-seeded Celtics, who have shown a tendency to relax at the wrong time, didn’t show the Cavs much mercy.

Tatum had his second straight strong performance, adding 11 rebounds and five assists. Jrue Holiday had 16 points for Boston.

Darius Garland scored 30 and Evan Mobley and Caris LeVert 19 each for the Cavs, who stayed in touch with the Celtics and trailed by just 10 heading into the fourth.

Boston went up 15 on a Brown jumper, but Cleveland responded with a 10-2 run as Garland and Dean Wade made 3-pointers.

The Cavs were still 102-97 when Brown made a 3-pointer with 1:08 left and Boston closed the game at the free throw line.

James, who played 11 seasons in two separate stints for Cleveland, was back in his old arena — a visit sure to spark speculation about where he might play next.

The NBA’s leading scorer may opt out of his contract with the Los Angeles Lakers this summer, and James said he hasn’t made any firm decisions.

The 39-year-old sat across from the Boston bench, between his wife, Savannah, and agent Rich Paul. James received a monster ovation from the Cleveland crowd when he appeared on the scoreboard during a first-quarter timeout.

Despite dealing with a left knee injury for months, Mitchell averaged 29.6 points in the first 10 games of the playoffs, scoring 50 points in the Game 6 loss to Orlando.

He injured his calf in the final moments of Cleveland’s Game 3 loss Saturday and was added to the injury report as questionable Sunday. Mitchell underwent around-the-clock treatment but did not have enough time to heal. He is considered every day, according to coach JB Bickerstaff.

Allen missed a seventh straight game with a painful injury suffered by center in the first round.

As Holiday scored seven straight points, the Celtics took a 13 lead in the second quarter and looked ready to run away from the Cavs.

But Cleveland fought back as Max Strus, who struggled with his outside shooting throughout the playoffs, scored three straight points in a 13-3 run that helped the Cavs pull to within 62-57. half-time.

Boston center Kristaps Porzingis missed his fifth straight game, but the Celtics were encouraged by his ability to get work done on the court.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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