Donovan Mitchell, Cavaliers provide Game 7 magic to beat Orlando, advance to conference semifinals

Cleveland – or not Donovan MitchellLong term future with Horsemen Now it is doubtful whether the city belonged to him.

Mitchell, Heir LeBron James In many ways, he led the franchise to its first playoff series win without The King since 1993 with a 106-94 victory in Cleveland. Orlando Magic In Game 7 of their first round series.

Mitchell, following his 50-point loss in Game 6, would not be denied Sunday with 24 of his 39 points in the second half, deafening chants of “MVP” from a raucous, frothing crowd at Rockets Mortgage Fieldhouse.

“I told you at the beginning of the series, that’s why I’m here. That’s my job. That’s why the expectations are on me,” said Mitchell, who has a four-year, $200 million contract extension offer coming this summer.

“It’s an honor to be a part of history in that way, obviously,” Mitchell added when asked about leading the Cavs to their first series win without LeBron in 31 years. “But the biggest thing is, I told everybody in the locker room … it doesn’t really mean much. We didn’t build the (team) we built to come in the first round and win.

The Cavs will face the top-seeds Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference semifinals. Game 1 at Boston’s TD Garden on Tuesday at 7 p.m.

Paulo Panchero Finished with 38 points and 16 rebounds in a huge first playoff series for the Magic. The 21-year-old became the youngest player to score 30-plus points in three games in a single playoff series.

Cleveland, winners of four straight Game 7s (until Game 7 of the 2016 Finals), trailed by 18 in the first half and 10 at halftime. According to Elias Sports, the Cavs’ comeback in Game 7 was the biggest since at least 1998.

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“They went on a heck of a run,” Magic coach Jamaal Mosley said. “I think they did a great job of forcing tough shots. Those hard shots and long shots lead to runouts. We stagnated little by little. We found something that worked and we missed a couple of shots and they were able to get out and run. Donovan went down a bit.

Cleveland won in the fourth quarter of its final regular-season game to secure fourth place in the Eastern Conference and tie Orlando in the first round. On Sunday, the Cavs were 24 game minutes away from denying that decision.

After going 3-for-13 in the first half, Mitchell stormed out of the locker room to score 17 points in the third. His drive tied the score at 64 after a Jalen Suggs foul in the lane for a short jumper with 4:09 left in the third quarter. James.

“Give a shout out to the Cleveland fans, it’s crazy,” Mitchell said. “I (found myself) standing in the middle of the arena and enjoying the moment.”

Orlando forward Jonathan Isaac said: “He was tough tonight. He played well. He’s had a great streak. So while it’s not necessarily about him, it’s tough if other guys can help him.

true Mitchell wasn’t the only one at the rally. Max Stress, scoreless in the first half, scored 11 of his 13 points in the third quarter — including a 3-pointer with 2:23 left that Cleveland never relinquished for a 71-68 lead. Strauss signed a four-year deal from Miami Heat To improve the team’s outside shooting after Cleveland’s first-round playoff loss last summer New York Knicks. He picked the right time to fulfill the promise the Cavs saw in him with those three 3s in the key three.

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Cleveland scored 15 points Carys LevertAfter struggling a lot in Game 6, he logged seven minutes. Evan Mobley He finished with 11 points, 16 rebounds and five blocks as Cleveland’s only big man. Darius Garland Struggled to shoot (3-of-13 overall), but hit a 3-pointer with 5:53 left in the fourth to make it 88-77. Mitchell hugged him after the shot, which sent the game into a timeout. Garland finished with 12 points.

Sam Merrill, who has been used infrequently in this series, may have saved Game 7 for the Cavs, even if all but a few seconds of his 11 minutes came in the first half. With Cleveland trailing, he scored eight in the second quarter, including two big 3s, to help the Cavs cut their deficit to 10.

“We had some guys come in and make momentum-changing plays,” Cleveland coach JP Bickerstaff said. “I thought Sam came in, not just the three guys, but the responsibility he took. Carys came in (and) gave us a spark. We did it together, we didn’t doubt each other. .When we went on the road, we had moments where we let things snowball and we weren’t about that tonight.

The Magic, by all accounts ahead of schedule in their program structure, have not won a playoff series since 2010.

While Banchero dominated the series with averages of 27 points and 8.6 rebounds, no other Magic player was as consistent.

Wendell Carter Jrwho started the series off the bench, added 13 points and finished with 10 chugs in Game 7. Orlando shot 29-for-86 from the field and will lament letting a golden opportunity slip into the second round.

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No road team has won a road game in the series. The Cavs led by nine at halftime in Game 4 and five in the fourth quarter of Game 6, but crumbled twice. Orlando’s lead in the second quarter, reaching 18 points, looked insurmountable, but the Magic couldn’t make a shot after that. Franz Wagner And Suggs, Orlando’s leading scorer next to Banchero, went 3-of-28 in Game 7.

Cavs Center Jared Allen (Rib tumor) missed the final three games of the series. He averaged 17 points and nearly 14 rebounds before Mo Wagner’s elbow “pierced” a rib on his right side in Game 4, and team sources questioned his status for Game 1 on Tuesday.

For Cleveland, “questionable” is a lot better than out – the end of the season. Sometime Sunday, it went that way.

Required reading

(Photo: Ken Blaze/USA Today)

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