NBA playoffs

‘High-powered’ Celtics crush Cavaliers in East semis opener


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‘High-powered’ Celtics crush Cavaliers in East semis opener

HUSTLE. Celtics forward Jayson Tatum battles Cavaliers center Tristan Thompson for the ball in Game 1 of the NBA Eastern Conference semifinals.

Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

When it comes to offense, Jaylen Brown thinks the Celtics have an ‘answer for everything’ against Donovan Mitchell and the Cavaliers in the NBA Eastern Conference semifinals

Jaylen Brown scored 32 points while leading the Boston Celtics to a 120-95 victory over the visiting Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals on Tuesday, May 7 (Wednesday, May 8, Manila time). 

Derrick White made 7-of-12 three-point attempts and added 25 points for the Celtics, who had a 55-38 edge in rebounding. 

Jayson Tatum contributed 18 points and 11 rebounds but had a poor shooting night. Tatum went 7-of-19 from the field, including 0-for-5 from three-point territory.

Boston’s Payton Pritchard logged 16 points, Jrue Holiday had 14 points, and Luke Kornet grabbed 10 rebounds.

“It starts with defense,” Brown said. “We wanted to set the tone on defense and kept them under 100, but we feel like we have an answer for everything (on offense). We just play the game the right way. We see what they want to take away and we play after that.”

Cleveland’s Donovan Mitchell led all scorers with 33 points. Mitchell also had 6 rebounds and 5 assists.

“It’s one game at the end of the day,” Mitchell said. “Jaylen Brown is an All-NBA player. He makes 300 million dollars for a reason. It’s not the first time he’s scored 30 on somebody.

“They’re a high-powered team. We’ll look at the film and be better on Thursday. It sucks that we lost, but it’s good to see where we can improve.”

The Cavaliers received 17 points and a game-high 13 rebounds from Evan Mobley. Darius Garland finished with 14 points, and Isaac Okoro had 11.

Jarrett Allen, Cleveland’s starting center, missed his fourth straight game due to a rib injury. Allen averaged 17.0 points, 13.8 rebounds, and 1.3 assists in 31.8 minutes per game during the first four games of Cleveland’s first-round series against the Orlando Magic.

“Player safety,” Cleveland coach JB Bickerstaff said. “We’re not going to put him out there if he can’t protect himself. That’s where he’s been at to this point.”

Game 2 in the best-of-seven series is scheduled for Thursday in Boston.

As expected, the Celtics didn’t have center Kristaps Porzingis, who is rehabbing a strained right calf that could cause him to miss the entire series. The Celtics improved to 23-4 in games where they have not had Porzingis this season.

Boston led 40-34 after one quarter and 59-49 at halftime. The Celtics led by 13 points three times in the second quarter.

White scored 14 points in the third, when the Celtics were up by as many as 16. Pritchard made a three-pointer that just beat the buzzer at the end of the quarter to give Boston a 92-77 advantage. Mitchell kept Cleveland close by putting up 16 points in the third.

The Cavaliers trailed by 26 with just under four minutes to play in the game. –

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