Friday, May 10, 2024

Cavaliers 118, Celtics 94: Donovan Mitchell leads Cleveland in Game 2 blowout win [series tied, 1-1]

The Celtics missed an opportunity to take a 2-0 best-of-7 series lead following their 118-94 blowout loss in Game 2 to the Cleveland Cavaliers Thursday night at TD Garden.

Jayson Tatum went 7-of-17 from the field to finish with a team-high 25 points to go along with seven rebounds and six assists, while Jaylen Brown struggled after his impressive Game 1 performance, to record 19 points on 17 shot attempts (including going 0-of-6 from deep).
"We expected them to play better and they did," Al Horford said in his postgame presser after scoring 11 points. "They responded and we didn't."
Payton Pritchard added 13 points off the bench and Derrick White also had a dreadful shooting display (3-of-11 and 1-of-8 from 3-point range) to chip in 10 points, five assists for the C's -- who have two losses at home so far in the postseason.

Donovan Mitchell continued his offensive rhythm, clinching a game-high 29 points (10-of-19 from the floor, including 5-of-7 from deep), seven rebounds and eight assists to lead the Cavs. Evan Mobley registered another double-double of 21 points, 10 rebounds and Caris LeVert also netted 21 points off the bench to even up the series and give Cleveland their first road win of the playoffs.
 "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," Mitchell told reporters.
"In the second half it was scoring," he added. "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."
The Cavaliers looked more aggressive in the opening quarter once they responded to the Celtics' 14-5 early lead (their largest margin of the game) to start with a 21-8 run to close the first 12 minutes with a six-point advantage heading into the second.

Boston got back on track with a 16-5 spurt capped off with a Tatum 3-pointer, but the Cavs kept hanging around never letting their deficit go beyond seven points -- before outscoring the home team 11-4 to finish the period and knot it up at 54 a piece at the break.

Mitchell got going to start the second half, hitting a three to put Cleveland ahead 86-72 with 2:12 remaining in the third as part of 14-5 run. He also ended the quarter with a buzzer beater from beyond the arc -- which was his fourth 3-pointer on five attempts in the period alone for a total of 16 points, after tallying only 6 points at halftime.

Despite trailing 90-78 to start the final frame, Boston never closed the gap, as Mitchell and the Cavs kept pouring it on to lead by as many as 29. Joe Mazzulla waved the white flag and pulled his starters at the 4:58 mark and with his team on the opposite side of 111-87 beat-down, when Tatum was assessed a flagrant 1 foul for swiping at LeVert head while going for a layup.
 "When you lose a game like that, it could be a combination of tactics, a combination of effort, a combination of a little bit of all those things at times," Mazzulla said of the loss. "You treat it the same way you would as a win -- come in tomorrow, watch the film and you get better for Game 3."
Both teams were without their starting centers in Kristaps Porzingis (calf) for Boston and Jarrett Allen (ribs) for the Cavs in the first two games of this second-round match-up. It's likely that will remain the case when this series shifts to Cleveland for Game 3, which is scheduled for Saturday night. ABC has the tip-off at 8:30 pm ET. 

Game Notes:

The Celtics were 41.3% from the field, including going just 8-of-35 (22.9%) from 3-point territory, while Cleveland hit 54.7% from the floor and 13-of-28 (46.4%) from long distance. Boston was out-rebounded 44-31 and outscored in the paint 60-44. The Cavaliers handed out 24 assists (12 turnovers) on 47 baskets to the C's 22 dimes (seven turnovers) on 33 made shots.

Joel Pavón

Photo used courtesy of Getty Images

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