Tatum, Brown step up to score 61, lead Celtics to comfortable Game 3 win over Cavaliers

2024 NBA Playoffs - Boston Celtics v Cleveland Cavaliers
2024 NBA Playoffs - Boston Celtics v Cleveland Cavaliers

For Boston, the script against Cleveland feels a lot like the one against Miami: Win Game 1 handily, get a little complacent, run into a hot-shooting team, drop Game 2 at home, bounce back and win Game 3 on the road again looking dominant.

This time it was Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown stepping up when their team needed them most. Tatum finished with 33 points and 13 boards, plus challenged the team at half to step up, sparking a 14-0 run to start the third quarter that essentially put the game out of reach. Brown finished with 28 points on 13-of-17 shots and got some key buckets late.

result was a 106-93 Boston win in Game 3 on the road, giving the Celtics a 2-1 series lead over the Cavaliers.

If Cleveland is going to flip that Miami script they need to do it Monday night at home — if the Cavaliers go down 3-1 in this series headed back to Boston, it's over.

Game 3 felt like Boston getting back to form — defending at a high level, hitting 3s, attacking the rim — and Tatum and Brown set the tone for that.

"We don't come to Cleveland for the weather, so let's go," Brown said, via the Associated Press. There's nothing complicated about it: Play defense, and the rest will take care of itself. We could have done better, but we kept them under 100."

Those stars got a boost from role players. Jrue Holiday had 15 points on 6-of-8 shooting in the first half and finished with 18 on the night. Derrick White scored a dozen but was cold from the field for the second straight game (4-of-13).

Donovan Mitchell did his part with 33 points (playing through an aggravated left knee issue), including seven 3-pointers, for the Cavaliers. Evan Mobley had 17 points on 7-of-11 shooting, while Darius Garland and Caris LeVert each had 15.

The problem wasn't the Cavaliers offense, it was their inability to get stops when it mattered. That and the 14-0 Boston run to start the third quarter did Cleveland in.

"It changed the game," Mitchell said of the Celtics' third-quarter run. "Give them credit. They came out with a sense of urgency. It's tough to come back from that. They came out with an intention.”

The Cavaliers have to come out with that level of intention Monday night or they will be in a deep hole that will be very difficult to climb out of.