Al Horford dribbles the ball up the court against Cleveland

Keys to the Game: Celtics 118, Cavaliers 113

Marc D'Amico
Team Reporter and Analyst

Key Moment

Boston led the Cavs by only three points at halftime. It wasted no time blowing that lead open during the second half.

The Celtics opened up the third quarter on a 7-0 run to immediately build up the game’s first doube-digit lead, at 62-52. Al Horford and Marcus Smart sandwiched 3-pointers around a free throw from Jayson Tatum to account for the run. That’s all Boston needed to run away with a breezy victory.

Behind a string of hot shooting from Jayson Tatum, who scored 18 points during the third period alone, the C’s owned a lead of 15 or more points for the final 6:08 of the quarter. Its lead swelled to as many as 21 during the fourth quarter.

Credit to Cleveland, as it did make a desperation run during the final minutes of the contest to make things interesting. The Cavs trailed by 15 after Tatum’s miss at the 2:27 mark of the fourth before rattling off 10 straight points to cut its deficit to five with 27.5 seconds left. Smart and Tatum, however, converted on four free throws down the stretch to put the win on ice.

Key Player

Jayson Tatum will garner well-deserved attention following his 41-point, 11-rebound, eight-assist game Wednesday night. But he didn’t put forth a season-best effort. Al Horford did.

Horford scored a season-best 23 points on an 8-for-10 shooting effort that included a red-hot 6-of-8 performance from long range. Horford had not reached the 20-point mark since Jan. 19.

In addition to the scoring, Horford tied for the team high in rebounds with 11 boards. He, Tatum and Robert Williams each grabbed 11 apiece. Those 11 rebounds marked Horford’s highest total since also grabbing 11 against the Spurs back on Jan. 7.

Horford rounded out his box score with three assists and a blocked shot during his 32-plus minutes of playing time.

Box Score Nuggets

  • All five of Boston's starters scored at least 11 points, led by a team-high 41 from Jayson Tatum.
  • Tatum, Robert Williams and Al Horford tied for the team high in rebounds with 11 apiece.
  • Evan Mobley led the game with 13 boards.
  • Donovan Mitchell led the game with 44 points.
  • Cleveland outscored Boston 68-44 in the paint.
  • The C's shot exactly 50 percent from the field (39-of-78) and from long distance (16-of-32).
  • Three players in the game grabbed at least three steals: Darius Garland (four), Marcus Smart (three) and Jarrett Allen (three).
  • Both teams scored 16 second-chance points.
  • Caris LeVert led the game in plus/minus rating at plus-11 despite the fact that the Celtics led by double-figures for nearly the entirety of the second half.
  • The Celtics won despite their bench combining to score only 12 points.

Quote of the Night

"When those two guys are locked in on taking what the defense gives them and making the right play, we're a great team."

- Joe Mazzulla on Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown