Donovan Mitchell scores 30, Cavaliers open playoffs with tough-minded 97-83 win in Game 1 over Magic

CLEVELAND (AP) — Donovan Mitchell and the Cavaliers spent the week insisting they have been higher ready for this yr’s playoffs.

On Saturday, they regarded it.

Mitchell scored 30 factors, Jarrett Allen had 18 rebounds and the Cavs regarded more durable — mentally and bodily — than in final yr’s first-round flop, beating the Orlando Magic 97-83 in Recreation 1 of their Japanese Convention playoff collection.

“Final yr is over with,” Mitchell mentioned. “We flushed that. That is who we’re, and that is who we count on to be.”

Evan Mobley added 16 factors and Darius Garland had 14 for Cleveland, which obtained bullied and bounced in simply 5 video games by the New York Knicks within the 2023 postseason.

That have scarred the Cavs, who entered these playoffs extra assured, deeper (no less than on paper) and comparatively wholesome after an everyday season stuffed with accidents.

Mitchell has been slowed for 2 months with a left knee bone bruise, however the All-Star guard moved nicely and regarded rather more like himself as Cleveland’s solely viable offensive risk for greater than two quarters.

Within the first half, Mitchell scooped up a unfastened ball and went in for a hovering dunk that served discover that he was again, and that the Cavs could be significantly better in his second postseason with Cleveland.

“That is who I’m,” he mentioned. “That’s sort of been my message all yr. This is the reason I’m right here. I might have had 10 factors so long as we obtained the job finished.”

Orlando’s Paolo Banchero scored 24 factors in his playoff debut, however had 9 turnovers. The Magic shot simply 33% from the sector — a few of it attributed to dangerous capturing, some due to Cleveland’s protection.

“We didn’t rating sufficient,” Banchero mentioned. “Simply pictures weren’t falling, however I assumed we obtained beauty. We missed a number of free throws (19 of 30) and didn’t make 3s (8 of 37). There have been a number of issues we might have finished quite a bit higher.”

Recreation 2 is Monday at raucous Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, the place followers didn’t have a lot to cheer final spring because the Knicks ended the Cavaliers’ run shortly after it started.

Mitchell slept solely two hours Friday evening as his nerves — and the 1 p.m. tip — messed along with his pregame routine. However as soon as he obtained to the sector and heard Phil Collins’ anthemic “In The Air Tonight” blaring, he shortly obtained into playoff mode.

“He’s prepared for the second and it’s the Recreation 1s,” Cavs coach J.B. Bickestaff mentioned. “It’s the larger video games in the course of the common season. He has the power and the understanding of how vital the beginning is, no matter which may be.”

Just like the Cavs a yr in the past, the Magic lack playoff expertise and it confirmed.

Orlando’s offense was unorganized and Banchero too usually tried to pressure issues. He went 9 of 17 from the ground in 41 minutes.

The Cavs have waited all season for an opportunity at redemption following final season’s first-round flameout.

And whereas they have been in management for a lot of the recreation, that they had simply seven area targets over an 18-minute stretch and solely led 60-56 when Banchero transformed a three-point play with 4:24 left within the third.

Mitchell settled issues down with back-to-back buckets and Cleveland closed the third with a 13-2 run that despatched the Cavs into the fourth main by 15.

The Magic twice minimize a 20-point deficit to 9 within the fourth, however the Cavs responded and Mitchell’s 3-pointer with 4:44 left ended any considered an Orlando comeback.

Tempers flared between the groups within the second quarter, resulting in some jawing, finger-pointing and two technical fouls being referred to as.

Orlando’s Moritz Wagner pushed an off-balance Mobley as he was falling out of bounds on the baseline and his clapping irritated Cleveland’s Isaac Okoro, who shoved Wagner and drew a technical.

Moments later, Magic guard Markelle Fultz was assessed a flagrant-1 for his foul on Georges Niang, who was driving to the basket. Niang didn’t prefer it, walked towards Fultz and was slapped with a T for taunting as Cleveland’s crowd roared.

As if the Cavs wanted any reminders, Tom Petty’s “I Received’t Again Down” performed over the sector’s sound system as Fultz’s foul was reviewed.

“It’s the playoffs, proper?” mentioned Niang, signed by the Cavs to enhance their toughness. “You count on all the pieces to only be amplified to an entire new stage. So no matter they have been planning on doing, I used to be anticipating it to be as bodily because it was, if no more bodily.

“That’s simply the playoffs. It’s a battle. You’ll have pals on the market, however we’re not pals.”


After Monday’s matchup, the collection shifts to Orlando for Recreation 3 on Thursday.