The Celtics Are Fighting Against the Cavs for a Place in the Finals, the Doncic-led Mavericks Are Beating the Thunder - Latest Global News

The Celtics Are Fighting Against the Cavs for a Place in the Finals, the Doncic-led Mavericks Are Beating the Thunder

Boston completed a 4-1 series victory over Cleveland with a 113-98 win before Dallas defeated Oklahoma City 104-92.

The Boston Celtics defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers 113-98 to reach the Eastern Conference finals for the third straight year, while Oklahoma City, the top seed in the Western Conference, was on the verge of elimination after a 104-92 home loss to Dallas.

Jayson Tatum’s 25 points helped the Celtics overcome an injury-riddled Cavs lineup and earn a 4-1 win in the best-of-seven series on Wednesday in Boston.

The top seeds in the Eastern Conference will face either the Indiana Pacers or the New York Knicks for a spot in the NBA Finals.

But while Boston continued to make progress, Oklahoma City’s playoff season hangs in the balance after a devastating loss to Dallas.

Mavericks star Luka Doncic led from the front with a triple-double and finished the game with 31 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists.

The Mavs lead the series 3-2 and can clinch a spot in the Western Conference Finals with a win in Game 6 on Saturday in Dallas.

“We were only able to win one more game in two games and that was it,” Doncic said. “It’s 3-2, but that’s nothing. We have to finish it and keep going with the same mentality.”

Doncic had been angry after the Mavs gave up the initiative in Game 4 at Texas on Sunday, but said a more relaxed approach was key to Wednesday’s confident performance.

“Sometimes I forget that I like playing basketball, that’s what I do,” Doncic said. “My mental focus was just to go out there and play basketball with a smile on my face.”

Offensively, Doncic was joined by Derrick Jones Jr. with 19 points, while three other players scored in double figures.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander led the Thunder in scoring with 30 points, eight assists and six rebounds.

The “battle-hardened” Celtics want to make it to the end

Previously, Cleveland’s hopes of returning to the series against Boston were dashed before the game after it was confirmed that three of their top six players – Donovan Mitchell, Jarrett Allen and Caris LeVert – were out with injuries.

But Cleveland shook off that setback and put on a fierce performance that allowed them to get within three points of the Celtics midway through the fourth quarter.

Evan Mobley was outstanding for Cleveland, scoring a game-high 33 points, while Marcus Morris Sr. contributed 25 points off the bench.

But just as Celtics fans at TD Garden were nervously wondering whether a shock defeat was on the cards, Boston engineered a decisive 13-2 run – capped by a three-pointer from Tatum – that gave them a 101-14 lead. 87.

Tatum, who also contributed 10 rebounds and nine assists, said Boston prepared for a dogfight despite Cleveland’s injury-riddled lineup.

“Anyone who has played in this league knows what happens when someone’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 differently.

“Our attitude going 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 made it.”

Tatum said Boston is now determined to break its dismal recent record in the Eastern Conference Finals. Boston has lost in four of five games in the Eastern Conference finals since the 2016-17 season.

“Every year brings different challenges,” Tatum said. “Me and the rest of the crew have been to the conference finals about four or five times.

“We are battle tested. We know what is important. We just have to put things aside and try to overcome this hurdle.”

Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum celebrates with a fan after the Celtics defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers to reach the Eastern Conference Finals [Charles Krupa/AP]

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