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Fresh off their 52-point drubbing of the Golden State Warriors, the Boston Celtics entered Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse riding an 11-game win streak.

That's the most consecutive victories strung together in the NBA this season. The last five came by an average of 30.2 points.

Entering the final frame with an 87-71 lead against a Cleveland Cavaliers team already missing Donovan Mitchell and Max Strus before losing Evan Mobley to a sprained ankle in the third quarter, it looked like Boston was on its way to another double-digit victory.

But the Celtics let go of the rope.

Their first-shot defense, which stifled the hosts for much of the night, softened. The visitors paid the price for late rotations and surrendering clean looks as Dean Wade erupted for 20 points on 7/7 shooting, including burying all five threes he took in the last 12 minutes.

Cleveland made 8/11 attempts from beyond the arc, got 28 points from the second unit, and when Wade swooped in to slam home a Darius Garland missed layup, it capped a quarter where the Cavaliers outscored Boston 34-17.

Despite the Celtics slowly taking their time on the final possession, they got the mismatch they wanted, with Garland guarding Jayson Tatum. The five-time All-Star initially earned a trip to the free-throw line, with his team trailing 105-104 and 0.1 on the clock.

But after a successful challenge by the hosts and the final 0.7 seconds evaporating on the ensuing tip-off at half court before Boston could take a timeout, its win streak ended.

Now for a deep dive into what stood out as the Celtics seemed poised to improve their NBA-leading record to 49-12 but got burned for taking their foot off the gas.

The Celtics were sharp at both ends in the first frame, holding the hosts scoreless for over four minutes while staging a 15-0 run to build a 20-9 advantage.

Whether he was driving from above the break and euro-stepping his way to the cup, or he was knocking down threes after picking and popping, or being the beneficiary of Boston getting downhill and then making the extra swing pass, Kristaps Porzingis put ten points on the board on 3/5 shooting, including burying both threes he hoisted. 

The seven-foot-three center also swatted two shots in the opening 12 minutes.

Jayson Tatum led all scorers in the first quarter, producing 13 points on 4/5 shooting, drilling all three of his attempts from beyond the arc, including a buzzer-beater that gave the visitors a 33-25 edge after the opening period.

While the Celtics did well walling off drives and contesting shots, limiting the Cavaliers to 37 percent shooting in the first 12 minutes, they gave up four offensive rebounds and ten second-chance points against the twin towers of Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley.

But in the second frame, Boston paired its impressive on-ball and team defense with an improved performance on the defensive glass. Cleveland shot 26.9 percent from the field -- though they fared 4/10 from three-point range -- and its three extended possessions translated to only two points.

Along with Tatum's role in helping hold the Cavaliers to 32.1 percent shooting as the short-handed hosts struggled to cultivate reliable sources of offense, the five-time All-Star grabbed five of his eight first-half rebounds in the second quarter.

He also tacked on nine more points on 3/4 shooting, with his lone miss coming on the front end of a two-for-one attempt at the end of the first half. The two-time All-NBA First Team selection entered intermission with a game-high 22 points, knocking down 7/9 shots, including 5/6 threes.

After taking a 55-45 edge into the break, the Celtics had to overcome four misses in the restricted area and five turnovers in the third quarter, which undermined their half-court defense.

And while Derrick White had one of those giveaways and a few careless passes that nearly got intercepted, he impressively swatted three-point attempts by Darius Garland and Caris LeVert.

The former Colorado Buffalo also delivered a dime to Jrue Holiday for a corner three, made a shot as he fell to the hardwood after stepping on a Cleveland defender, and dished out five assists in the third frame.

White's two-way play helped Boston go on a 13-4 burst that stretched the visitors' lead to 82-69.

In a worse development for the Cavaliers, Mobley exited the game after spraining his ankle on an awkward landing following an uncontested dunk.

That made it all the more difficult to keep up with a Celtics team that, led by Jaylen Brown's manufacturing 12 points, shot nearly 60 percent in the third period, including 5/7 from behind the arc.

But after taking an 87-71 advantage into the final frame and leading by as much as 22, the visitors let up defensively, and their offense went cold.

That led to an avalanche that went from a 14-2 run by the hosts to 28-6, tying the game at 99 on a Georges Niang three with 3:19 left. 

After a Holiday miss at the other end, Dean Wade, who erupted for 18 points on 6/6 shooting, including faring 5/5 from beyond the arc, in under eight minutes in the fourth quarter, put Cleveland on top 102-99 with 2:34 remaining.

With the Cavaliers ahead 103-101, Porzingis earned himself a Tommy Point, rotating to prevent a dunk, sprinting the floor, and finishing through contact. He then tacked on the free throw, putting Boston ahead 104-103 with just over 36.1 seconds to go.

But the Celtics' struggles keeping Cleveland off the boards resurfaced at the worst time, as Wade swooped in to slam home a Garland missed layup.

With the hosts leading 105-104 with 19 seconds left, Boston took its time bringing the ball up the floor, didn't take a timeout, but got the mismatch it wanted, again hunting Garland.

It initially looked like Tatum capitalized, earning a trip to the free-throw line with 0.1 seconds on the clock. But a successful challenge by the Cavaliers led to a jump ball at half court with 0.7 seconds remaining.

The remaining time on the Celtics' 11-game win streak ticked away before they got granted a timeout as Cleveland completed its rally for a 105-104 victory. 

The C's are now on to a potential NBA Finals preview against the Denver Nuggets on Thursday night. That game will tip off at 10:00 EST at Ball Arena.

Further Reading

Warriors' 'Disrespect' Only One Source of Fuel for Jaylen Brown Sunday

'The Best Team in the NBA': Luka Doncic Struck by Celtics' Balance

Tired of Celtics' Playoff Inconsistency, Wyc Grousbeck Decided 'We're Not Running It Back'

Jaylen Brown's Evolution Crucial to Celtics' Desire to Win with More Than Talent

Celtics Embracing Challenge to Go Beyond Most Talented

Jayson Tatum Opens Up About Sacrificing in Celtics' Title Pursuit: 'It's a Process'

Brad Stevens Discusses Celtics' Plan for Final Roster Spot

Marcus Smart Shares How Boston Shaped Him, His Message to Celtics Fans

Celtics Maturation Molded by Experience: 'It Builds, Like, an Armor'

Jaylen Brown Quieting Doubters, Validating What He Always Believed: 'Earn Everybody's Trust'

Joe Mazzulla Discusses Identity, Evolution of Celtics' Offense: 'Balance of Pace and Execution'