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Celtics may face an extremely shorthanded Cavaliers team in Game 5

BOSTON -- The Boston Celtics will look to close out the Cleveland Cavaliers in their second-round playoff series Wednesday night. Or at least what is left of the Cavaliers.

Cleveland could be without three of its top six players for Game 5, as guard Donovan Mitchell (calf), center Jarrett Allen (rib), and guard Caris LeVert (knee) are all considered questionable for the Cavaliers' must-win game in Boston.

Mitchell averaged 31.7 points over the first three games of the series, but was sidelined for Monday night's Game 4 in Cleveland. Despite not having their All-Star guard -- or Allen, who has been sidelined since the first round against the Magic -- the Cavaliers still gave the Celtics a battle. Boston won in the end, 109-102, but it was their first single-digit victory of the postseason.

LeVert took Mitchell's spot in Cleveland's starting five and scored 19 points in his 39 minutes during Game 4. But now he's questionable for Game 5 with a bone bruise in his left knee.

The odds are obviously stacked against Cleveland, with the Celtics only missing Kristaps Porzingis as he recovers from the right soleus strain that he suffered against the Miami Heat in the first round. But for much of Monday's win, it looked like the Celtics were playing down to their undermanned opponent. The desperate Cavaliers gave them all they had, and erased a 15-point Boston lead in the fourth quarter before the Celtics got their act together in the final minutes. 

While the Cavaliers could be without a lot of their star power on Wednesday night, the Celtics can't show up to TD Garden and expect to win to be given to them. After going 37-4 on their home floor during the regular season, the Celtics are just 3-2 at home this postseason, with Cleveland's only win of the series coming in Game 2 in Boston. The Celtics are 14-15 at home over the last three postseasons, so nothing has been a given at TD Garden in the playoffs.

The Celtics have a great opportunity to close out the Cavaliers on Wednesday and get a nice break before heading to the Eastern Conference Finals for the sixth time in the last eight seasons. They cannot let that slip away and open the door for all those the questions and doubts from the last two postseasons resurface.

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