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Game 1 Recap: Cavs at Celtics

On Sunday afternoon, the Cavaliers finally vanquished the Magic after seven hard-fought games. Their reward was a date with Boston in the Second Round – and on Tuesday night, the top-seeded Celtics showed why they’re a different animal, altogether. After a tight first quarter, Boston jumped out to a double-digit lead early in the second – taking a 10-point lead into the locker room and never allowing the Wine & Gold within single-digits the rest of the way, cruising to the 120-95 Game 1 win. 

*** After getting off to a strong start on the offensive end, the Cavaliers cooled off after a 34-point first quarter – netting just 15 points in the second quarter and 18 more in the fourth. On the night, Cleveland shot 41 percent from the floor, including 26 percent from long-range, and were held under the century mark for the sixth time in eight postseason games. Boston also outrebounded the Wine and Gold, 55-38, including a 25-13 mark after intermission. 

*** “I think obviously there's a lot of areas that we can improve upon,” said J.B. Bickerstaff following Tuesday’s loss. “Our guys came out with the right intent, the right effort. Again, facing a team like Boston, I think it's good to be able to play them and see them and then playing them again because you're not used to the speed, the spacing, the shooting – all those things until you get up against them. Especially coming from a series that we just came from that was more of a half court slugfest, where they play with more tempo, more spacing. So, we'll learn from it and we'll be better on Thursday.”

Despite Cleveland’s offensive struggles, Donovan Mitchell continued his heater in Game 1 on Tuesday – leading both teams with 33 points, going 12-for-25 from the floor, including 4-of-11 from deep and 5-of-5 from the stripe, adding six boards, five assists and a steal. Cleveland’s five-time All-Star is now averaging 40.7ppg on 51 percent shooting over his last three postseason outings.

*** With Jarrett Allen still out – missing his fourth straight game with bruised ribs – Evan Mobley had another solid night in the post, netting his fourth double-double of the postseason and second straight – scoring 13 of his 17 points after halftime, adding a game-high 13 boards to go with three assists and a block. 

Mobley on his late-game surge: “I was just out there trying to be aggressive for our team, trying to find my spots. (In the) first half, things weren't falling, it was in and out for me. So, I was just trying to stay aggressive – and the shots started falling in the fourth.”

*** Darius Garland overcame a slow start to finish with 14 points, going 6-fof-15 from the floor to go with a game-high-tying five assists, adding three boards and a steal.  Isaac Okoro was the only other Cavalier in double-figures on Tuesday – cooling off after a hot start, netting eight of his 11 points in the opening period, drilling his first three shots but finishing 4-of-11 from the field.                

*** Boston was paced by Jaylen Brown, who scored 15 of his team-best 32 points in the first quarter. Derrick White canned seven triples to finish with 25 points on 12-of-18 shooting, including 4-of-6 from beyond the arc. Jayson Tatum led the Celtics with 11 boards, doubling-up with 18 points despite struggling from the floor. Payton Pritchard led all reserves with 16 points and Luke Kornet was a menace on the boards off the bench – grabbing 10 rebounds, six off the offensive glass, in 21 minutes of work. 

*** Okoro talked postgame about trying to contain White – along with Boston’s other threats. “It's not (White)’s first time doing that. I mean, we know he could shoot the ball pretty good. A lot of people on their team could shoot the ball. So, it's not just Jason Tatum or Jason Brown. All the guys are threats on the court offensively at every time.” 

*** This Eastern Conference Semifinal matchup between the Cavs and Celtics is the ninth postseason clash between these two teams – each franchise winning four of those series. They’ve now played 47 Playoff games, with Cleveland still holding a 24-23 lead. 

These two teams will tangle again in Game 2 on Thursday night in Boston. The series shifts to Cleveland for Games 3 and 4 on Saturday and Monday. If necessary, the series returns to Beantown for Game 5 next Wednesday and comes back to Cleveland the following Friday. If the series goes the duration, Game 7 happens back here in Boston on Sunday, May 19. 


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