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NBA: Cleveland draws against Boston, Dallas returns to OKC

  • May 10, 2024
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Cleveland and Dallas turned things around on Thursday against their opponents, with the Cavaliers surprising the Boston Celtics and the Mavericks silencing the Oklahoma City Thunder to tie their respective NBA playoffs at one-all.

Donovan Mitchell led a collective effort by the Cavaliers who largely beat the Celtics (118-94) in Boston to bring the score to 1-1 in the Eastern Conference semi-finals.

Mitchell scored 23 of his 29 points in the second half, which facilitated this spectacular rebound for the Cavs after their mistakes in the first game (120-95).

Evan Mobley got Cleveland going early, scoring 15 of his playoff-high 21 points in the first half. The 22-year-old center added 10 rebounds and five assists.

Full-back Caris LeVert contributed 21 points off the bench for Cleveland, who saw six players exceed twelve points.

“I like how offense-oriented we were,” Cavaliers coach JB Bickerstaff said. “We didn’t just take the first quick (shot) we saw.”

Fans of the Celtics, who finished N.1 in the regular season in the East, left the TD Garden en masse before the end of the match, disappointed with the performance of their players.

Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla released his two stars Jayson Tatum (25 points) and Jaylen Brown (19 points).

Brown lamented that his team’s defensive efforts were simply “unacceptable.”

“We conceded 118 points,” he said. “On top of that, we lost the rebounding battle, so we didn’t help ourselves tonight.”

“Everyone did their job,” Mitchell replied. “But it’s only one victory,” underlined the Cavs leader, who hopes that his teammates will be able to repeat this performance on Saturday at home.

Doncic with courage

In Oklahoma, Dallas was able to count on the 29 points and 10 rebounds of its star Luka Doncic, although still hampered by his right knee, to defeat the Thunder (119-110) in the semi-final of the Western Conference.

PJ Washington was also decisive for the Mavericks: the strong winger who arrived last February scored 29 points, like the Slovenian leader, and he managed 11 rebounds.

His teammate Kyrie Irving, on the other hand, was discreet on the scoresheet with only nine points but he offered eleven assists.

Second in the regular season MVP standings ahead of Luka Doncic but behind Serbian Nikola Jokic, Canadian Shai Gilgeous-Alexander responded with 33 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists for the Thunder.

Doncic scored 16 points in the first quarter to set the tone in a hard-fought clash between the two franchises.

“I think it was one of the most difficult matches I have had to play,” said the former Real Madrid player.

NBA: Cleveland equalizes against Boston, Dallas comes back to match Oklahoma

Dallas’ Slovenian point guard Luka Doncic during the Mavericks’ victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder in the NBA Western Conference semifinals, in Okhlahoma City, May 9, 2024 / Joshua Gateley / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA /AFP

“I fight on the pitch. I try to do my best to help the team win. It’s just my mentality to get a good start and then the team will follow me,” summed up the player. 25 years old, who fell at the start of the match after contact with Luguentz Dor.

Doncic stumbled again early in the fourth quarter and limped back, but he stayed in the game and made a game-winning shot that cut the Mavericks’ lead to nine points shortly after the Thunder cut it back to four units.

Dallas will therefore approach Game 3 on Saturday at home with morale boosted against the No. 1 of the regular season in the West.