NBA: Cavs grab convincing win over Magic in playoff opener

AFP , Saturday 20 Apr 2024

Donovan Mitchell scored 30 points as the Cleveland Cavaliers roared out of the gates in the NBA playoffs on Saturday, leading wire to wire in a 97-83 victory over Orlando in game one of their Eastern Conference series.

Donovan Mitchell
Donovan Mitchell #45 of the Cleveland Cavaliers looks for a pass while under pressure from Gary Harris #14 of the Orlando Magic during the first quarter game one of the Eastern Conference First Round Playoffs at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse on April 20, 2024 in Cleveland. AFP


Jarrett Allen added 16 points and 18 rebounds as the Cavs won the rebounding battle 54-40 in a victory that Allen hoped would set the tone for the best-of-seven series.

"We keep saying 'throw the first punch,'" Allen said in an on-court postgame interview. "I think it was the perfect example tonight."

Evan Mobley also scored 16 points and grabbed 11 rebounds and Darius Garlanded added 14 points with eight assists for the Cavs, who are still smarting from a first-round loss to the New York Knicks last season.

Mitchell, who missed Cleveland's regular-season finale with a nagging knee injury, appeared unhindered in a dominant offensive display.

Orlando's Paolo Banchero scored 24 points but had nine of the Magic's 12 turnovers.

Cleveland coughed up 18 turnovers and went cold in the third quarter as the Magic cut a 12-point halftime deficit to four points.

A pair of baskets from Mitchell sparked an 18-2 scoring run that saw the Cavs push the lead to 20 early in the fourth quarter.

"I think we did good," Allen said. "We wanted to bring the physicality."

Things got testy in the second quarter, with Cleveland reserves Georges Niang and Isaac Okoro both assessed technical fouls -- Niang for crowding into Markelle Fultz after Fultz fouled him on a drive to the basket.

"I loved it," Allen said of the Cavs' take-no-prisoners mentality. "That's what we're all about."

The game was the first of four on the opening day of first-round action, highlighted by game one of LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers' grudge series against the defending champion Denver Nuggets.

Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets swept the Lakers in four games in the Western Conference finals last year on the way to the franchise's first NBA title.

They also won all three meetings this season.

In other games Saturday, the Minnesota Timberwolves hosted the Phoenix Suns and the New York Knicks hosted the Philadelphia 76ers.

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