Celtics vs. Cavaliers score, takeaways: Boston eliminates Cleveland, heads back to Eastern Conference finals

The Boston Celtics are heading back to the Eastern Conference finals in the 2024 NBA playoffs. The Celtics eliminated the Cleveland Cavaliers with a 113-98 win in Game 5 of their second-round series on Wednesday night. It's the third consecutive Eastern Conference finals appearance for the Celtics and their sixth in eight seasons. 

The Cavs were without leading scorer Donovan Mitchell (calf injury) for the second game in a row, and they were also without Caris LeVert (knee) -- who started the Game 4 loss in Mitchell's place. The Cavs hung tough, leading in the first half and staying within striking distance until midway in the fourth quarter when Boston pulled away. 

The Celtics shot 52.5% from the floor and knocked in 19 3-pointers. While Jaylen Brown (11 points) had a quiet game, the Celtics had six different players score in double figures. 

Like Game 4 without Mitchell, the Celtics were not as dominant as expected, but the win improved them to 8-2 this postseason. The East's No. 1 seed now awaits the winner of the Knicks vs. Pacers series in the conference finals.

Here are three takeaways from the series-clinching Game 5.

The ageless Al Horford

Everyone talks about LeBron James and Stephen Curry as longevity freaks but let's not forget about Al Horford, who is in his 17th season and about to turn 38 and was just the best player on the floor in the closeout game for the Celtics. 

Horford finished with 25 points, 15 rebounds and five assists. He hit six 3-pointers. He blocked three shots, saved a ball flying out of bounds and had Darius Garland bottled up on the perimeter all night when he found himself switched onto the speedy guard. Just an incredible effort from one of the NBA's forgotten ageless wonders. 

Tatum nears triple-double

Tatum finished one assist shy of a triple-double with 25 points, 10 rebounds, 9 assists and 4 steals. My favorite possession of the might was when the shot clock was winding down and Tatum was pinned in the corner with Evan Mobley on him. He could've settled for a step-back 3 and blamed the low clock, but he used every second at his disposal to cross Mobley over and beat him baseline for an acrobatic finish. 

Tatum not settling for contested jumpers when he doesn't need to makes him an even bigger problem than he is but on natural scoring talent. For the most part, he played aggressive downhill in this game and got his jumpers on his terms, which will become increasingly important against whoever the Celtics face in the conference finals and potentially the Finals. 

Shout out to Marcus Morris

Morris scored seven points over 30 meaningless minutes through the first three games of this series, and he didn't get off the bench in Game 4. 

With Donovan Mitchell, Caris LeVert and Jarrett Allen all out for the Cavs, Morris dusted himself off in Game 5 and came out firing with 25 points on 10-of-13 shooting. He cashed five 3-pointers in 34 minutes, combining with Evan Mobley, who poured in 33, for almost 60% of Cleveland's 98 points. 

These two shots were huge in keeping Cleveland attached to Boston late in the third as the Celtics just could not pull away. 

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FINAL SCORE: Celtics 113, Cavaliers 98

*Boston wins series 4-1

  • Jayson Tatum: 25 points, 10 rebounds, 9 assists
  • Al Horford: 22 points, 15 rebounds, 5 assists, 6 of 13 from 3
  • Derrick White: 18 points, 6 assists, 2 blocks, 4 3-pointers
  • Evan Mobley: 33 points, 7 rebounds, 15-of-24 shooting
  • Marcus Morris: 25 points, 5 of 6 from 3
May 16, 2024, 1:22 AM
May. 15, 2024, 9:22 pm EDT
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Celtics finally pulling away

Boston's lead is up to 14 halfway through the fourth on some terrific two-way play from Al Horford and Derrick White. Tatum hits a 3 to send Cleveland into a timeout. 

May 16, 2024, 1:06 AM
May. 15, 2024, 9:06 pm EDT
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Marcus Morris is out of his mind

Morris is up to 22 points with his fourth 3-pointer and the Cavs are within five with 10 minutes to play.

May 16, 2024, 12:57 AM
May. 15, 2024, 8:57 pm EDT
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3Q SCORE: Celtics 85, Cavaliers 78

Marcus Morris continues his crazy night with two late 3-pointers to close the third quarter as Cleveland continues to refuse to go away. 

May 16, 2024, 12:51 AM
May. 15, 2024, 8:51 pm EDT
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May 16, 2024, 12:46 AM
May. 15, 2024, 8:46 pm EDT
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Boston just can't pull away

It's part Cleveland not letting go of the rope when it looked like things were getting away from them early in the third, and it's part the Celtics settling for lazy shots when they had a chance to put their foot on the Cavs' throat. Now Cleveland is back within six. Boston needs one big surge of energy to really bury the Cavs, and instead they keep slowing down. 

May 16, 2024, 12:42 AM
May. 15, 2024, 8:42 pm EDT
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HALFTIME SCORE: Celtics 58, Cavaliers 52

  • Derrick White: 15 points (3 of 5 from 3), 5 assists, 4 rebounds, 2 blocks
  • Jayson Tatum: 12 points, 6 rebounds, 2 of 4 from 3
  • Al Horford: 9 points, 3 blocks, 3 of 8 from 3
  • Marcus Morris: 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting
  • Darius Garland: 9 points, 3-of-9 shooting
  • Max Strus: 9 points, 6 assists, 5 rebounds
May 16, 2024, 12:11 AM
May. 15, 2024, 8:11 pm EDT
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Al Horford is ageless 

Horford is about to turn 38 and he's out here stuffing Darius Garland on one-on-one drives and flying through the air to save balls from out-of-bounds and steal Boston another possession. Horford has three blocks and is all over defensively while also cashing three 3-pointers. 

May 16, 2024, 12:02 AM
May. 15, 2024, 8:02 pm EDT
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Derrick White has it going

White has 15 points on 6-of-10 shooting with three 3-pointers. He's the only Celtic with more than seven points. 

May 15, 2024, 11:57 PM
May. 15, 2024, 7:57 pm EDT
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Cavs not making it easy

If the Cavs were supposed to lay down with Donovan Mitchell, Caris LeVert and Jarrett Allen out in Game 5, nobody gave them the message. Cleveland is up on Boston in the second quarter and keeping pace in the 3-point game (9-7). 

May 15, 2024, 11:54 PM
May. 15, 2024, 7:54 pm EDT
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The Marcus Morris Game?

The Cavs are leading the Celtics with nearly 20 minutes played in Game 5. One of the biggest reasons why? Veteran Marcus Morris has been called off the bench for the short-handed Cavs and has delivered. Morris is 5-for-5 from the floor for 12 points.

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1Q SCORE: Celtics 28, Cavaliers 28

  • Derrick White: 10 points
  • Marcus Morris: 7 points
May 15, 2024, 11:37 PM
May. 15, 2024, 7:37 pm EDT
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Celtics up early

The Celtics have a 16-12 lead halfway through the first quarter. Derrick White has hit a pair of 3-pointers and has a team-high 8 points. The Celtics are 4-for-6 on triples, while the Cavs have hit just one of their five attempts. If that keeps up, this could get ugly in a hurry.

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D Wade in starting lineup

With Donovan Mitchell and Caris LeVert both out tonight, the Cavs are turning to forward Dean Wade in their starting lineup. Wade himself was dealing with an injury recently that sidelined him for the final month of the season. He returned last Saturday in Game 3. He's scored just eight points in 42 minutes so far and is 2 for 8 on 3-pointers in the series. One of Wade's best games of the regular season, however, came against Boston. He scored 23 points and hit six of his nine 3-point attempts in a 105-104 win against the Celtics on March 5.

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Celtics vs. Cavaliers: Game 5 info

We're just a few minutes away from tip-off in Beantown. Here's what to know for tonight's Game 5.

Time: 7 p.m. ET | Date: Wednesday, May 15
Location: TD Garden -- Boston
TV channel: TNT | Streaming: Watch TNT, Max
Odds: Celtics -1700, Cavs +950, O/U: 205.5

2024 NBA Playoffs - Cleveland Cavaliers v Boston Celtics
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LeVert joins Mitchell, Allen on sideline

Cavs wing Caris LeVert will also miss tonight's Game 5 in another blow to Cleveland's scoring depth. The Cavs are already without star guard and leading scorer Donovan Mitchell. And big man Jarrett Allen has missed the entire series to date. 

LeVert, who has a bone bruise in his knee, is averaging 10.1 points per game in these playoffs. He's only made one playoff start this season, and it came in Game 4 of this series when Mitchell was also out.