NBA playoffs

Mitchell, Cavaliers rise to 2-0 over Magic in gritty NBA playoffs series


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Mitchell, Cavaliers rise to 2-0 over Magic in gritty NBA playoffs series

GRINDING OUT. Cleveland Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell (45) drives to the basket in the fourth quarter against the Orlando Magic during game two of the first round of the 2024 NBA playoffs at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

USA TODAY Sports via Reuters Con

All-Stars Donovan Mitchell and Jarrett Allen connive to lead the Cleveland Cavaliers past the Orlando Magic for a 2-0 lead in the NBA playoffs

Donovan Mitchell recorded 23 points and eight rebounds and Jarrett Allen collected a personal-playoff-high 20 boards to pace the Cleveland Cavaliers to a 96-86 victory over the visiting Orlando Magic on Monday (Tuesday, April 23, Manila time).

Cleveland grabbed a 2-0 lead in a best-of-seven Eastern Conference first-round playoff series.

“(Allen has) been phenomenal and understanding what is necessary and then going and doing whatever he can to impact it,” said Cavaliers head coach J.B. Bickerstaff of Allen, who has 38 boards over the first two games of the series.

“We knew that this series would be won in the interior. We knew we would have to do a great job on the boards. In back-to-back (games), he’s taken it upon himself to make sure we win that battle.”

Evan Mobley scored 17 points, Allen had 16 and Darius Garland added 15 for the fourth-seeded Cavaliers. Isaac Okoro added 10 points and four steals for Cleveland, which never trailed.

Paolo Banchero scored 21 points and Franz Wagner added 18 points and seven rebounds for the Magic. Gary Harris had 14 points and Moritz Wagner posted 12.

Banchero and Franz Wagner each had six turnovers and the Magic had 17 overall as a team. Banchero has committed 15 turnovers in the two games.

“Turnovers and offensive rebounds — they are outrebounding us over these first two games. We have to clean that up,” Franz Wagner said.

Game 3 of the series is scheduled for Thursday at Orlando.

After lackluster play throughout, the Magic suddenly came alive in the fourth quarter and ripped off 13 consecutive points. A three-point play by Jalen Suggs ended the rally and cut Cleveland’s lead to 87-78 with 4:57 remaining in the contest.

However, Mitchell answered with consecutive baskets and Mobley followed with a short jumper to push the lead to 15 with 2:41 remaining.

The Magic later moved within nine again on Banchero’s dunk with 1:12 left but would get no closer.

Okoro’s dunk with 18.8 seconds left sealed the victory for Cleveland.

The Cavaliers shot 41.5 percent from the field, including 12 of 39 (30.8 percent) from 3-point range. Garland made four 3-pointers.

Orlando made 36.2 percent of its attempts from the floor and was 9 of 35 (25.7 percent) from behind the arc.

“We were trying to contest their jumpers and clog the paint,” Mitchell said. “They have a lot of guys who can get in there and score. We’re just trying to make it tough. It’s going to be a physical series. Give them credit, they’re never going to stop fighting. It’s good to go up 2-0.”

The Magic trailed 80-65 after Moritz Wagner’s dunk with 24.8 seconds left in the third quarter.

The Cavaliers responded with the first seven points of the final quarter, the last five coming from Garland, to push the lead to 22 before the Orlando uprising.

Mitchell scored 19 first-half points as the Cavaliers led 58-44 at the break. Franz Wagner scored 17 points in the half for Orlando.

Garland knocked down a trey to open the second quarter as Cleveland took a 33-18 lead. The Magic answered with the next 10 points to cut their deficit to five before the Cavaliers later expanded the lead to 17 on two free throws by Mobley with 5:53 left in the first half.

Suggs was helped off the court with a left knee strain with 4:02 left in the first quarter after he bumped into Mitchell while trying to help defensively. He missed the rest of the first half but returned at the start of the third quarter and finished with nine points, six rebounds and five assists in 29 minutes.

Mosley said after the game that Suggs would be re-evaluated when the team is back in Orlando. –

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