Al Horford reveals Jayson Tatum’s gesture that fired up Celtics amid Cavs Game 3 threat

Tony Nguyen | Boston Celtics
May 12, 2024

The Boston Celtics got a much-needed bounce back win on Saturday against the Cleveland Cavaliers after losing game two of their series at home. The Celtics got a road win of their own on Saturday, and they are now up 2-1 in the series. Losing game three would’ve been bad for Boston as they would’ve been down 2-1 with another game to play in Cleveland, but they are now back in the drivers seat in this series.

Cleveland hung around for the first quarter of the game and they didn’t let the Celtics get too far ahead in the second quarter, but Boston really pulled away when the second half started. The Celtics were hot coming out of the break as they started the half on a 14-0 run, and the Cavaliers weren’t able to get back in it after that.

Something changed for the Celtics when they went into the locker room, and according to Al Horford, Jayson Tatum got the team motivated.

Defense was strong, JT [Jayson Tatum] challenged us at halftime to make sure that we were more assertive and got off to a good start in the third,” Al Horford said, according to a tweet from NBC Sports. And we did a good job, we responded.”

The Celtics certainly did respond. That 14-0 run to start the second half was really the big difference in the game, and it helped the team get the big win in game three. If Boston can win another on the road in game four, they will be sitting pretty in this series.

Boston is two wins away from reaching ECF

Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (0) reacts in the fourth quarter of game three of the second round of the 2024 NBA playoffs against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.
© David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

After winning game three, the Celtics need just two more wins to get to the Eastern Conference Finals. They lost in game two of their first playoff series as well at home against the Miami Heat. That loss seemed to serve as a wakeup call to the team as they cruised through the rest of the series to set up this matchup with the Cavaliers. Boston fans are hoping that the game two loss in this series will yield a similar result.

The other series in the East is between the Indiana Pacers and the New York Knicks. The Knicks won games one and two at home, and the Pacers responded well with a win at home on Friday night to avoid the 3-0 hole. The winner of that series will take on the winner on the Celtics-Cavaliers series in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Boston will look to go up 3-1 on the Cavaliers in game four which will take place on Monday night. The game will be in Cleveland and it will get started at 7:00 ET on TNT. The Celtics are currently favored by 8.5 points in that one.