Celtics hope for better luck against Donovan Mitchell, Cavs

Feb 24, 2023; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell (45) dribbles against the Atlanta Hawks in the first quarter at State Farm Arena. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

The Boston Celtics haven’t had much luck against Cleveland this season, so they’re hoping that luck takes a turn for the better when they welcome the visiting Cavaliers on Wednesday night.

Boston and Cleveland have played twice this season and the Cavaliers prevailed in overtime both times. Cleveland won 132-123 in Boston on Oct. 28, and 114-113 in Cleveland on Nov. 2.

Darius Garland scored 29 points and collected 12 assists the last time the teams met. Donovan Mitchell added 25 points in that win.

Mitchell, who is averaging a team-high 27.2 points per game, tossed in 35 points to help Cleveland end a three-game losing streak by beating Toronto 118-93 on Sunday. Mitchell made eight 3-pointers in the win, one short of his career high. Cleveland received 23 points and a game-high 11 rebounds from Jarrett Allen. Garland and Evan Mobley each finished with 18 points.

“We hadn’t played our best basketball the last three games, so we just came out and were aggressive,” Mitchell said. “Darius got us going scoring-wise and the rest of us took over from there.”

It was the 20th time the Cavaliers have held an opponent to less than 100 points in a game this season. Cleveland leads the NBA in that category.

“This was a big game for us and Donovan is a guy who shines brightest when we need him the most,” Cleveland coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “Most important, he’s a part of the team and I can’t say enough about that.”

Boston is coming off Monday night’s 109-94 road loss to the New York Knicks. Jayson Tatum was ejected in the fourth quarter after he picked up his second technical foul when he claimed he was fouled on a 3-point attempt. It was the first time he was ejected from an NBA game.

The Celtics missed 20 of their first 22 3-point attempts and shot a season-low 21.4 percent (9-of-42) from behind the arc in the game. The loss ended Boston’s three-game winning streak.

“It’s hard when you get those open looks and you’re not able to capitalize,” Boston coach Joe Mazzulla said. “I have to go back and see if there’s more opportunities for us to get more offensive rebounds and get more shots, but like I said, if you get empty possessions at that end the way the Knicks play, it puts a lot of pressure on your defense over and over again, and they did that tonight.”

“It wasn’t our best night shooting the ball,” Boston’s Al Horford added. “They were the better team tonight.”

The Knicks attempted 34 free throws in the game. Boston had 14 attempts.

Tatum, who is averaging 30.1 points per game, ended up with 14 points, nine assists and seven rebounds. Malcolm Brogdon scored a team-high 22 points for the Celtics, who were without Jaylen Brown (personal).

Mazzulla said he expects Brown to play in Wednesday’s game against the Cavaliers. Brown led the Celtics with 30 points in Boston’s last game against Cleveland.

–Field Level Media

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