Celtics-Cavaliers takeaways: C's drop third straight in devastating fashion


Another night, another devastating defeat for the Boston Celtics.

The C's lost an excruciating fashion for the third consecutive game as they fell to the Cleveland Cavaliers in overtime, 118-114. After blowing a 28-point lead to the Brooklyn Nets and a 14-point lead to the New York Knicks, Boston watched a 15-point lead disappear Monday night at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.

Jaylen Brown (32 points) and Malcolm Brogdon (24 points) did their part for the shorthanded Celtics, who were without Jayson Tatum (knee contusion), Robert Williams (hamstring strain), and Al Horford (low back stiffness). Unfortunately for Boston, it wasn't enough to keep up with Donovan Mitchell (40 points), who delivered in crunch time to propel Cleveland to victory. Evan Mobley also was a difference-maker with 25 points and 16 rebounds.

The Celtics (45-21) will return home to face Damian Lillard and the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday night. First, here are our takeaways from yet another crushing loss.

Troubling trends

The Celtics have now lost four of their last five games with three of those losses coming as the result of late-game meltdowns.

The Cavaliers erased their 15-point deficit late in the fourth quarter and pulled ahead by one with 24 seconds left in regulation. That's when Derrick White delivered in crunch time after not playing down the stretch in the Knicks loss. He got the bounce on a go-ahead 3-pointer with 14 seconds left.

But the Cavs just wouldn't let up. They tied the game back up before Grant Williams missed both of his free throws with 0.8 seconds left to send the game into OT.

Like Sunday's double-overtime loss to New York, Boston wasn't able to finish. It missed too many shots in the OT period and Cleveland dominated the offensive glass. An inability to hold onto leads, poor late-game rebounding, and questionable shot selection down the stretch all have haunted the C's over their last three games. They'll hope to snap out of that funk sooner rather than later.

A tale of two Grants

The past month has been a struggle for Williams. The 24-year-old has been going through a tough slump that has made him uncharacteristically hesitant to shoot. Entering Monday's game, he was just 4-for-18 from the floor including 2-for-13 from beyond the arc in five games since the All-Star break.

In the first half, Williams finally looked more like himself. He showed no hesitation as he drilled his first four 3-point attempts of the night.

Those shots should have given him a much-needed confidence boost, but then the final moments of the fourth quarter happened.

Williams had a chance to win the game on free throws with 0.8 seconds left in regulation. He was perhaps a little overconfident as he was seen on the broadcast telling Donovan Mitchell "I'll make them both," but he missed both attempts.

It couldn't get much worse for Williams right about now. While it was encouraging to see him break out of his shooting slump, those missed free throws will be difficult for him to shake off.

Live by the 3, die by the 3

The Celtics were red-hot from beyond the arc in the first half. They shot 13-for-26 on 3-pointers, and that helped them head into halftime with 68 points and a 12-point lead.

The rest of the game was not as pretty. Boston went just 3-of-22 from deep between the second half and overtime, which probably was partly the result of tired legs on the second night of a back-to-back coming off Sunday's double-OT game.

But the other part was simply poor shot selection down the stretch. The Celtics forced too many shots, and that came back to bite them as Mitchell and the Cavs converted their looks on the other end.

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