The Boston Celtics once again found themselves losing in overtime to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday night, falling 114-113 as their record drops to 4-3 on the season. Overall, the effort from Celtics was solid, but multiple late game miscues cost them the matchup against a very good Cavs team. Darius Garland returned to action for Cleveland after missing time with an eye injury, chipping in 29 points on 9-of-20 shooting as well as 5-of-11 from beyond the arc.
After a 29-8 run by Cleveland in the third quarter, Boston clawed their way back into it and tied the game at 107 apiece on a thunderous dunk from Jayson Tatum through contact over Jarrett Allen. The team stepped up defensively on the Cavs final possession, blocking a potential game winner from Donovan Mitchell and sending the game to overtime. Boston outscored Cleveland 31-24 in the fourth quarter.
But at the end of the game, a few costly mistakes put the Celtics in a tough position, including a Marcus Smart missed shot that was a clear attempt to draw contact to get a whistle as well as Jaylen Brown not calling a timeout after grabbing the rebound with less than ten seconds left in the game. Brown’s lapse in judgement and a lack of communication between Mazzulla and the team cost the Celtics some precious seconds, as they were left with only 2.3 seconds to get a shot off to win the game. Brown got the inbound in a mismatch, took a tough contested fadeaway jumper that didn’t fall, and the Celtics took another OT loss on the chin from the Cavs.
After the game, Jaylen Brown walked through Boston’s final possession and his potential game winning shot. “So the end of regulation, we got the hand back to JT,” said Brown, referring to the ATO play that led to Tatum’s explosive dunk over Allen. “So, for this one we drew up, We got a lot of space in the middle of the floor, and it was pretty much, just give me the ball to make a play. And I came up short.”
When asked about how the shot felt leaving his hand, Brown said “It felt all right. I wish I would have caught it a little closer where I could have got to my spot. I had two seconds, but two seconds is enough time to get a good look but maybe not.” Brown’s fadeaway jumper was over Dean Wade, a mismatch Boston sought to target with their final play. “I didn’t love it, but I got a clean look, it’s a makeable shot, I can knock that shot down. I’ve hit it before, just came short.”
Jaylen Brown had a chance to win the game with this shot.— ESPN (@espn) November 3, 2022
Cleveland wins its sixth game in a row ‼️ pic.twitter.com/L9pvIQdhv0
It’s important to acknowledge that the Cavaliers are also a very good team, and it’s a tough matchup for Boston due to their size. It’s no mystery why the Cavs have now won six straight games, as they’ve looked like one of the best teams in the East after acquiring Donovan Mitchell in the offseason to add to their core of Mobley, Garland, and Allen. “Cleveland is a good team. They may plays down the stretch,” said Brown of their two overtime losses to the Cavs this season. “Obviously, we would have liked to win both of those overtime games and we came up short.”
To Boston’s credit, they played well for a majority of the game, and they’ve kept the same message of staying the course. “We still got a lot of room to grow. We did a lot of the good things, well, and we got to do some things better,” said Brown. “So going forward, we just got a lock in and on to the next.”
On the mistakes to improve upon, Brown said “On third quarter, I think we just fouled way too much and that put them at the free throw line and gave them like six seven or eight points in the third quarter. And first quarter, we could have came out to a better start gave up another 30-point quarter.” As one of the league’s best offensive teams, the Cavs have now consistently come out swinging, especially with Garland’s return to the rotation.
Boston still needs to hash out their defensive woes, but make a concerted effort on the defensive glass; the biggest issue was getting that same effort consistently throughout the entire game. “We got to be better defensively and just got to put a full 48 minutes together against a team that’s playing well right now. Tonight we played probably about 36 was well, but you know, 48 plus overtime...we got to finish the game.”
So far, Joe Mazzulla has been stingy with his timeouts, preferring to let the team work through their rough patches as opposed to cutting off potential momentum. When asked if it was empowering for the players, Brown said “Yeah, absolutely. I think that we’re learning, we’re all getting acclimated and adjusted to each other. And again, acclimated to Joe, acclimated to having the lineups that we have out there. It’s different from last year, so we are learning on the fly. Obviously we would like to win and learn on the fly tonight, as well as the last time we played Cleveland, we had chances to win and we came up short. But I got full faith that we’ll put it together, and continue to learn moving forward.”
The Celtics will play again at home on Friday night against the Chicago Bulls, 7:30PM EST tipoff.