The Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the Boston Celtics in surprising manner, 118-114, Monday night in overtime at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, handing the Celtics their third consecutive defeat.
The Cavs improved to 41-26 on the season while the Celtics fell to 45-21.
ONE KEY LESSON
The Celtics battled despite missing three of their top starters less than 24 hours after playing a double-overtime game against the New York Knicks. Against a healthy Cavaliers squad that had forced the Celtics into overtime twice in their previous three games, Celtics head coach Joe Mazzulla started Blake Griffin, Mike Muscala, Marcus Smart, Derrick White, and Jaylen Brown.
And it was effective up to the last few seconds of the regulation.
When the Celtics needed him the most, Grant Williams’ fourth-quarter taunt to Donovan Mitchell backfired at the free-throw line, leading to an abject defeat. Williams had a chance to put the Celtics ahead with only a fraction of a second left. Nevertheless, after suggesting that he had struck both of them, he actually missed both of them, forcing overtime.
Positively, the night once again demonstrated Boston’s depth. Malcolm Brogdon, Williams, Sam Hauser, Luke Kornet, and Payton Pritchard, who made up the bench, all contributed to keeping the game close and supporting the starters by scoring a combined 50 points and dishing out seven assists. They forced four turnovers while only committing three blocks and one steal on the defensive end. Nine of the Celtics’ total of 16 3-pointers were hit by the reserves, which helped to maintain a Cavs run of 11-2 in the last three minutes of the fourth quarter.
THE GAME’S STARS — Brown was charged with leading the offensive charge because Jayson Tatum was sidelined, which he accomplished. Brown had a triple-double performance with a team-high 32 points, 13 rebounds, and 9 assists. In the waning seconds of the game, Brown also made a crucial game-winning shot that was crucial to his 44-minute performance.
— Like he has done multiple times this season, Brogdon led the reserve unit while also scoring 24 points in 36 minutes of action. Mitchell put on a brand-consistent effort, ending with a game-high 40 points, 11 rebounds, and 4 assists.
The odds on the Over were -156 at FanDuel Sportsbook, with the over/under on Smart’s made 3-pointers set at 1.5. By the end of the first half, Smart had overcome those odds, making three of his first seven tries from beyond the arc. Defensive Player of the Year from the previous season would have paid out a total of $164.10 on a $100 bet.
The Celtics will get the day off to rest up for their home game against the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday. The TD Garden will host the opening tip at 7:30 p.m. EDT.