Cavs most to blame for gut-wrenching Game 4 loss to Celtics

Tony Nguyen | Boston Celtics
May 14, 2024

The injury bug has been costing the Cleveland Cavaliers a supposedly generational NBA Playoffs run. They might have had LeBron James cheering on the sidelines but Jarrett Allen and Donovan Mitchell were missing in action. But, this did not stop Coach JB Bickerstaff from using his squad to launch haymakers against the Boston Celtics. Darius Garland gave his best performance yet but Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum were just a little bit too much for the Cavs.

A lot of the praise had to go to Darius Garland. He picked up the production that Donovan Mitchell would have put on the table. His shooting stroke, while used in a large volume, was money from all three levels of scoring. He ended the game with 30 points while going 12 for 27 from the field. A big chunk of the Cavs offense also started from him. He got his teammates involved and always saw the weakside cutter for a casual seven assists. Darius Garland then rounded this performance out by hounding the Celtics’ primary ball handlers to steal the ball twice.

Other Cavs starters also stepped up in this crucial Game 4 matchup against the Celtics. Evan Mobley was just a rebound short of a monster double-double but he still managed to notch 19 points. Max Strus also lit it up and held his own in this game. He played a mind-boggling 43 minutes and went five for nine from beyond the arc to record 15 points.

So, who’s to blame on the Cavs?

May 13, 2024; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers guard Darius Garland (10) drives against Boston Celtics center Al Horford (42) in the fourth quarter of game four of the second round for the 2024 NBA playoffs at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
© David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

It boils down to the two other wings that Coach JB Bickerstaff fielded in this Celtics game. A large part of it has to do with not being able to stick with their man on defense while also failing to produce on offense. Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum combined for an insane total of 60 points against the Cavs. They also did it fairly efficiently with a merged clip of 50% from all three levels of scoring.

Isaac Okoro and Caris LeVert were the guys who were in front of the Celtics duo of Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum a lot of the time or they got matchup-hunted by Joe Mazzulla’s schemes. Both of them did notch a block but that was about the most that they could do to prevent their opponent from getting an extra basket.

Offensively, both of them put up horrid performances. Caris LeVert played 39 minutes and was assigned to keep running the offense along with the other Cavs starters to keep them afloat. However, he may have just effectively shot them out of the game at times. LeVert only knocked down one out of his eight three-pointers. But he did it make it up to the Cavs by shooting 50% from the field afterward to score 19 points. Although the outside shots were not going down, he still put out good scoring.

The same cannot be said for Isaac Okoro. Not only was he famished with having to defend switches in his 21 minutes of action, he could not get anything going. His three-pointers did not see the bottom of the net once despite attempting four shots. He only hit one field goal on eight shots for two points. For a squad that needed to fill in for their absences, this is not the stat line that one would expect. Had he scored more, the Cavs would have had a chance to at least tie the game. Instead, it ended with a 109 to 102 scoreline with the Celtics possessing the commanding three to one series lead.