NBA: Cavaliers shock Celtics, Mavs silence Thunder to level playoff series

AFP , Friday 10 May 2024

Cleveland and Dallas turned the tables on their top-seeded opponents on Thursday, the Cavaliers shocking the Boston Celtics and the Mavericks silencing the Thunder to level their NBA playoff series at one game apiece.

Donovan Mitchell
Cleveland s Donovan Mitchell drives against Jayson Tatum in the Cavaliers victory over the Boston Celtics in game two of their NBA Eastern Conference semi-final series. AFP


Donovan Mitchell led a comprehensive Cleveland effort as the Cavaliers powered past the Celtics 118-94 in Boston to make it 1-1 in their best-of-seven Eastern Conference semi-final series.

Dallas star Luka Doncic scored 29 points and grabbed 10 rebounds and teammate P.J. Washington poured in another 29 points for the Mavericks, who beat the Thunder 119-110 in Oklahoma City to knot their Western Conference semi-final at one-all.

Mitchell scored 23 of his 29 points in the second half and received plenty of support from "attack-minded" teammates as the Cavs bounced back from a game-one rout.

Evan Mobley, 22, got Cleveland going early, scoring 15 of his playoff career-high 21 points in the first half. Mobley added 10 rebounds and five assists and reserve guard Caris LeVert added 21 points off the bench for Cleveland, who had six players score in double figures.

"I like the way that we were just attack-minded," Cavaliers coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. "We didn't settle for the first quick (shot) that we saw."

The Cavs fell behind in each of the first two quarters had tied it up 54-54 at halftime.

Mitchell erupted for 16 points in the third quarter as the Cavaliers seized control.

The Cavs, up by 12 going into the fourth, pressed their advantage, as Mitchell drained three straight baskets that included a spinning drive for a hook shot that made it 99-83.

By the time Cleveland pushed their lead to 24 points with less than five minutes to play, fans were streaming out of T.D. Garden arena.

Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla pulled his starters, with Jayson Tatum finishing with 25 points and Jaylen Brown adding 19.

Brown said the Celtics' defensive effort was simply "unacceptable."

"We gave up 118 points," he said. "On top of that we lost the rebound battle -- so we didn't help ourselves tonight."

Just one win

Mitchell, meanwhile, was delighted with what he called a "complete performance."

"Everybody did their job," Mitchell said, adding they need to keep the pressure on when the series shifts to Cleveland on Saturday.

"At the end of the day, it's one win," Mitchell said. "We've got to do it at the crib."

The Mavericks will also head home for game three on Saturday with their series level.

Doncic, playing through a right knee sprain, scored 16 points in the first quarter to set the tone in a bruising battle.

The Slovenian star landed face-first on the court early in the contest when his feet tangled with those of Oklahoma City's Luguentz Dort as they raced up court.

Doncic tripped again early in the fourth and came up limping, but stayed in the game and drilled a three-pointer that pushed the Mavericks' lead back to nine points after the Thunder had cut it to four.

"I think that was one of the hardest games I've had to play," Doncic said. "I'm battling out there. Trying to do my best to help the team win.

"It's just my mentality to have a great start and then team is going to follow me."

Doncic, held to six-of-19 shooting in game one, connected on 11 of his 21 attempts in game two.

While star teammate Kyrie Irving had a slow-scoring night with nine points, he handed out 11 assists with two steals and two blocked shots.

Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 10 of his 17 points off the bench in the third quarter to help the Mavs thwart a Thunder rally.

Oklahoma City erased a 14-point first-half deficit and took the lead for the first time early in the third. They led by as many as three points but couldn't build any momentum and Dallas took a 10-point lead into the fourth.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 33 points with 12 rebounds and eight assists for the Thunder and Jalen Williams added 20.

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