NBA

Mitchell, Cavaliers storm back to beat Magic in Game 7 and reach East semifinals

By Sports Desk May 05, 2024

Trailing by 18 points in Game 7, the Cleveland Cavaliers' season appeared to be over. Donovan Mitchell, however, had other ideas.

Mitchell scored 39 points to help rally the Cavaliers to a 106-94 win over the Orlando Magic on Sunday to advance to the Eastern Conference semifinals.

Fouth-seeded Cleveland, who won their first playoff series since 2018, will now face the top-seeded Boston Celtics in Tuesday's series opener.

The Cavaliers won their first playoff series without LeBron James since 1993, though it looked like they were heading for a second straight first-round exit as they found themselves trailing 49-31 with less than four minutes to go in the second quarter.

The Cavs cut it to 10 at half-time, and Mitchell helped Cleveland complete the comeback with a sensational third quarter.

After finishing with 50 points in Friday's 103-96 Game 6 loss, Mitchell had two more points than the entire Magic team in the third, scoring 17 points on 7-of-9 shooting as Cleveland outscored Orlando 33-15 to take a 76-68 lead into the fourth.

The Magic stayed within striking distance throughout the first half of the final period until Darius Garland finally found his shot.

Garland scored 10 of his 12 points in the final six minutes of the game, a stretch that began with a made 3-pointer to put the Cavaliers up by 11 points.

The Magic only connected on 3-of-15 3-point attempts after half-time and made just 4-of-24 shots (16.7 per cent) in the pivotal third quarter.

Paolo Banchero led Orlando with 38 points and a career high-tying 16 rebounds but Franz Wagner and Jalen Suggs combined for just 16 points on 3-of-28 shooting.

At 21 years and 175 days old, Banchero became the second-youngest player in NBA history to have at least 35 points and 15 rebounds in a playoff game. The only player younger was Magic Johnson (20 years, 276 days) on May 16, 1980.

Caris LeVert added 15 off the bench for the Cavaliers, while Evan Mobley had 11 points and a playoff career-high 16 boards.

Cleveland again played without All-Star centre Jarrett Allen, who sat out the final three games of the series due to a rib contusion.

He averaged 17 points and 13.8 rebounds in the series' first four games, and his status for Game 1 in Boston is uncertain.

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