La Gaceta De Mexico - Celtics overpower short-handed Cavs to reach conference finals

Celtics overpower short-handed Cavs to reach conference finals
Celtics overpower short-handed Cavs to reach conference finals / Photo: © GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP

Celtics overpower short-handed Cavs to reach conference finals

Jayson Tatum scored 25 points as the Boston Celtics overpowered the injury-hit Cleveland Cavaliers 113-198 on Wednesday to complete a 4-1 series victory and book their place in the Eastern Conference finals for the third straight year.

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The top-seeded Celtics, who will face either the Indiana Pacers or the New York Knicks for a place in the NBA Finals, were pushed all the way by a battling Cleveland team.

The Cavs' hopes of clawing their way back into the best-of-seven series were rocked earlier Wednesday after confirmation that three of their top six players -- Donovan Mitchell, Jarrett Allen and Caris LeVert -- were out with injury.

But Cleveland shrugged off that setback to produce a battling performance that saw them get within three points of the Celtics midway through the fourth quarter.

Evan Mobley was superb for Cleveland, pouring in a game-high 33 points while Marcus Morris Sr. added 25 off the bench.

Yet just when Celtics fans at the TD Garden were nervously wondering if a shock defeat was on the cards, Boston stitched together a decisive 13-2 run -- crowned by a three-pointer from Tatum -- that left them ahead by 14 points at 101-87.

Tatum, who also added 10 rebounds and nine assists, said Boston had prepared for a dogfight despite Cleveland's injury-stricken line-up.

"Anybody who's played in this league understands what happens when somebody's best players are out," Tatum said. "The rest of the guys have more freedom. They play with a different level of confidence and they play different.

"Our mindset coming into this game was 'However long it takes, that's how long it takes'. We didn't expect to win the game in the first or second quarter. We grinded it out."

Tatum said Boston were now determined to snap their dismal recent record in the Eastern Conference finals. Boston have lost in the Eastern Conference finals in four of five appearances since the 2016-2017 season.

"Each year presents different challenges," Tatum said. "Myself and the rest of the crew have been to the conference finals something like four or five times. We're battle-tested. We know what it takes. We just have to put the individual things aside and try and get over that hump."

Tatum was one of six Boston players to finish in double figures on Wednesday, with Al Horford adding 22 points and Derrick White 18.

Jrue Holiday finished with 13 points while Jaylen Brown and Payton Pritchard had 11 apiece.