Playoffs

NBA playoffs: Jayson Tatum, Celtics hold off late Cavaliers rally to take Game 3

NBA playoffs: Jayson Tatum, Celtics hold off late Cavaliers rally to take Game 3

After an uncharacteristic slip at TD Garden in Game 2, the Boston Celtics are back in control of the series.

The Celtics, behind a dominant night from Jayson Tatum, held on to pick up a 106-93 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 3 of their Eastern Conference semifinals series. The Celtics, after picking up double-digit wins in all but two games so far this postseason, now hold a 2-1 lead in the series. The loss also marked the Cavaliers' first at home in these playoffs.

Boston jumped out in front right away, thanks to a quick 12 points from Tatum in the first quarter. The Celtics nearly broke the game open several times in the first half, too, but it was Donovan Mitchell that kept the Cavaliers in it.

Mitchell had 23 of his 33 points in the first half while hitting six shots from behind the arc — including a ridiculous step-back 3-pointer in the final minute that sent Derrick White scrambling and kept them within single digits at the break.

The Celtics, though, took off to start the second half. They opened on an 14-0 burst, during which Cleveland head coach J.B. Bickerstaff called a timeout.

The timeout didn’t work. The Celtics pushed their lead to 23 points, at 71-48, before the Cavaliers scored in the second half — though it was a simple Mitchell floater. While that sparked the Cavaliers’ offense slightly, they went on a 15-4 tear, they still entered the final period down by 15.

While they cut it to single digits briefly to open the fourth in a last-ditch effort, it came too late. The Celtics responded quickly, thanks in part to a huge logo 3-pointer from Payton Pritchard, and closed out the 13-point win without any issue down the stretch.

Mitchell had six rebounds and three assists to go with his 33 points in the loss for Cleveland. Evan Mobley added 17 points and eight rebounds, and Darius Garland finished with 15 points and six rebounds.

Tatum led the Celtics with 33 points and 13 rebounds while shooting 11-of-25 from the field. Jaylen Brown added 28 points and nine rebounds, and Jrue Holiday finished with 18 points. The Celtics shot 13-of-34 from behind the arc as a team in the win, but shot better than 51% from the field.

The Celtics, outside of their two losses, have been ridiculously dominant so far in the playoffs. They've won their six games by an average of nearly 23 points, and four of them were won by at least 20. The win on Saturday was the closest they've had.

Game 4 of the series is set for Monday night in Cleveland. If the Cavaliers are going to hang in the series, a win there would make their Game 5 trip to Boston much more manageable. Otherwise, based on how dominant the Celtics have been all year, the series could be over sooner rather than later.

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