Cavaliers and Magic to settle playoff series standoff with Game 7 — the ‘best two words in sports’

Donovan Mitchell He pushed himself To his physical limits, leaving everything he had on the floor as he attempted to shut down the Orlando Magic early.

Cleveland star It came up short. He gets another shot.

once again. Game 7.

“Two best words in sports,” Mitchell said late Friday night.

Unable to find a way to win on the road, the Cavs and Magic will decide their series on Sunday in a proper winner-take-all final between two teams that have displayed their strengths and weaknesses to the public for six games.

Only one team advances to face the Boston Celtics, monsters of the Eastern Conference who will get a good break from whichever team survives the Cavs-Magic stalemate.

For Mitchell, who scored 50 points — including Cleveland’s last 22 and all 18 of the fourth quarter — during his virtuoso performance in Friday night’s 103-96 Game 6 loss, everything that came before that is almost meaningless, an extended opening .

“All the things I’ve done in six games really go out the window. It’s all about desperation and will,” he said. “How can we find ways to be consistently relentless. I have no doubt that we will show up. I have no doubt that Cleveland will show up.

It would help Mitchell if a few of his teammates showed up.

He was almost alone for long stretches in Game 6 as he tried to push the Cavaliers across the finish line and win a playoff series without LeBron James for the first time since 1993.

Mitchell did it with an eccentric left knee that caught fire throughout the second half, but hardly slowed his progress. But while he did his part and teammate Darius Garland added 21 points, the rest of the Cleveland lineup, which was missing center Jarrett Allen due to a rib injury, contributed just 25 points on 10 of 33 shooting.

Cavaliers forward Evan Mobley, who blocked Franz Wagner in the final seconds for Cleveland’s one-point Game 5 win, scored just three points on five shots and struggled after spraining his ankle in the first half.

Mobley was limping noticeably after the game.

The Magic took advantage of the Cavaliers’ front line shortcomings and dominated the interior, outscoring Cleveland 66-38 in the paint and winning the rebound battle 48-38. Playing with its usual intensity, Orlando also enjoyed a disparity at the free throw line where they scored 26 attempts to Cleveland’s 10, a gap that will likely shrink on the road.

While much of this is new for the Magic, who won just 22 games two years ago and 34 last year, there is a quiet confidence on a young team that is having to grow up quickly.

Orlando has not been overwhelmed up to this point, and coach Jamal Moseley believes his team is ready to face the ultimate situation of win or else.

“These guys remember what got them here,” Mosley said. “Obviously they understand the size. But we’ve also been the same team all year, the way we play, what we’ve asked them and asked them to do — play with a sense of urgency every night, play hard every night, play for every team. Others every night, They defend at high speed.

“He doesn’t change no matter the game.”

This is certainly the case for Magic striker Paolo Banchero, who scored 39 goals In game 527 in Game 6 and is averaging 25.2 points in his first playoff series.

The 21-year-old seems unfazed by the lights, which are about to get brighter and warmer than anything he and his teammates have ever seen.

Banchero is confident that the magic will not diminish.

“Nobody really believed in us two years ago and last year, but we believed in each other and that’s all we like to say to each other, is that we know what we’re capable of as a group,” he said. “The fact that we’re doing it is great.”

Magic on the Cavaliers

The series is tied 3-3. Game 7, 1 p.m. EST, ABC

– NEED TO KNOW: The matchup between the No. 4 seed and No. 5 seed was as tight as advertised with both teams winning 3-0 at home. The last series in which the home team won every game was in 2018, a first-round game win by Boston over Milwaukee. … The Cavs last played a Game 7 at home in 2018, beating Indiana. … Extending into the regular season, Orlando has lost seven straight games on the road.

– Keep an eye on: Cleveland’s bench. The Cavaliers’ supporting cast hasn’t been nearly as helpful as needed, averaging just 18 points through six games. Coach J.B. Bickerstaff needs more from his replacements, especially Caris LeVert, who is averaging 6.2 points per series — eight points below his season average.

– Injury Watch: Allen missed Games 5 and 6 with a sore rib injury, and the Cavaliers were sorely missing their man at center. Allen is the indispensable piece in Cleveland and without him the Cavaliers lack a vital rim protector to keep the Magic’s big men at bay.

– The pressure is on: The stakes couldn’t be higher for the Cavs, who spent the entire season seeking redemption from being eliminated in the first round by the Knicks a year ago. A loss on Sunday could result in massive changes and possibly impact whether Mitchell signs an extension with Cleveland this summer.


ABNBA: https://apnews.com/hub/NBA

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