Cleveland Cavaliers Stun Boston Celtics On The Road 118-94 To Steal Game 2 Of Second Round Series

Tatum is defended by Max Strus during the game. (Brian Babineau/NBAE/Getty Images via CNN Newsource)

By Sam Joseph, CNN

(CNN) — The Cleveland Cavaliers leveled their Eastern Conference semifinal series against the Boston Celtics, taking down the No. 1 seed 118-94 at TD Garden on Thursday.

The Cavaliers bounced back from a demoralizing Game 1 blowout to flip the script and steal home-court advantage away from Boston.

All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell scored 29 points, grabbed seven rebounds and dished out eight assists to help Cleveland to its first win of the series.

After a competitive first two quarters, the two sides entered the break locked at 54, before the fourth-seeded Cavs ran away with the game in the second half.

Mitchell went off after the restart – scoring 23 of his 29 in the second half – as the Cavs offense began firing on all cylinders while the Celtics struggled to get anything going.

“I hadn’t shot much, trying to find ways to get guys involved early and picking my spots. I was just continuing to find ways to apply pressure on them,” said Mitchell after the game.

“In the second half, it was scoring. Sometimes, it’s assists. Sometimes, it’s rebounds.
Whatever it takes. And when it was time to go, it’s time to go. I knew, at some point, I was going to have to start, obviously, shooting.”

When Mitchell banked in a triple in the fourth quarter to put Cleveland up by 15, he knew things were going his way.

“Sometimes, you get lucky. Shooters shoot,” he said.

Six Cavaliers scored in double figures – including the entire starting line-up – and Cleveland shot almost 55% from the field as a team and over 46% from three.

Evan Mobley – shifted over from power forward to center with Jarrett Allen still sidelined by injury – scored 21 points, with Caris LeVert matching him with 21 off the bench.

It was a disappointing Game 2 for the Celtics, who are widely considered to be one of the favorites to win it all after cruising through the regular season with the NBA’s best record.

All-Star forward Jayson Tatum led his team in scoring with 25 points though Boston could not keep up with Cleveland’s offensive output in the second half. The C’s shot 36.1% from the field – and 11.1% from deep, making two of their 18 three-point attempts – after halftime.

“Obviously, we didn’t shoot the ball very well tonight, but defensively, it was an unacceptable performance, and I think that’s where I’m the most upset,” said Celtics All-Star Jaylen Brown. “Defensively, we gave up 118 points, and on top of that, we lost the rebound battle, so we didn’t help ourselves tonight.

“You take it on the chin, you learn from it, and you come out and put your best foot forward for the next game. We need to be ready to respond.”

“You treat it the same way you would a win,” head coach Joe Mazzulla added, per the team. “You come in tomorrow, you watch film, and you get better for Game 3.”

The 17-time champions also suffered a Game 2 upset against the Miami Heat in the first round, though on that occasion, the defeat turned out to be no more than a momentary setback as Boston won the series in five games.

Game 3 is in Ohio on Saturday night.

Mavericks fight back to tie series against Thunder at 1-1

Slovenian superstar Luka Dončić overcame a frustrating Game 1 as his Dallas Mavericks squad defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder, 119-110.

Dončić – who finished third in MVP voting behind the Thunder’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and 2023-24 winner Nikola Jokić – had 29 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists, three steals and a block as the Mavericks picked up the victory.

“I think that was one of the hardest games I’ve had to play,” Dončić said postgame.
“I’m battling out there trying to do my best to help the team win.

“They have great players. They have great chemistry, great team – and it’s going to be tough. It’s going to be a fight ‘til the end, so just much respect to Oklahoma, but it’s big time we won this game.”

PJ Washington added another 29 points and 11 rebounds for Dallas, while Gilgeous-Alexander led OKC with 33 points, 12 rebounds, eight assists and two blocks.

This was the first defeat the top-seeded Thunder have tasted this postseason and Game 3 is on Saturday at American Airlines Center in Dallas.

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