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Cleveland Cavaliers and Orlando Magic resolve playoff series deadlock with Game 7

CLEVELAND (AP) — Donovan Mitchell pushed himself to his limits and left everything he had on the floor as he tried to shut down the precocious Orlando Magic.

Cleveland’s star came up short. He gets another chance.

Another. Game 7.

“The 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 settle their series Sunday in a fitting winner-take-all finale between two teams that have exposed their strengths and weaknesses to the public for six games.

Watch the Cavaliers take on the Magic in Game 7 LIVE at 1:00 PM ET/10:00 AM ET on TSN4, and the TSN App.

Only one can take on the Boston Celtics, the beasts of the Eastern Conference who will be well equipped for whichever team escapes this Cavs-Magic stalemate.

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

“Everything you’ve done for six games is really going out the window. It’s all about desperation and willpower,” he said. “How do we find ways to be ruthless all the time. 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 more of his teammates showed up.

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

Mitchell did it on a cranky left knee that flared up throughout the second half but barely slowed him down. But while he did his part and defensive back Darius Garland added 21 points, the rest of Cleveland’s lineup, which was missing center Jarrett Allen due to a rib injury, contributed just 25 on 10-of-33 shooting.

Cavs forward Evan Mobley, whose block on Franz Wagner in the final seconds sealed Cleveland’s one-point victory in Game 5, scored just three points on five shots and struggled after rolling his ankle in the first half.

Mobley limped noticeably after the match.

The Magic took advantage of the Cavs’ shortcomings on the front line and dominated inside, outscoring Cleveland 66-38 in the paint and winning the rebound battle 48-38. Orlando played with its usual aggression and also enjoyed a differential at the free-throw line with 26 attempts to Cleveland’s 10 – a gap that will likely close down the road.

And 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 about a young team forced to mature quickly.

The stage has not overwhelmed Orlando yet and coach Jamahl Mosley believes his team is ready to face the ultimate win-or-else situation.

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

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

That certainly seems to be the case for Magic forward Paolo Banchero, who scored 39 in Game 5, 27 in Game 6 and is averaging 25.2 points in his first playoff series.

The 21-year-old is seemingly unfazed by the spotlight, which is about to become brighter and warmer than anything he and his teammates have ever experienced.

Banchero is confident that magic will not shrink.

“A few years ago and last year, no one really believed in us, but we believed in each other and that’s all we told each other: that we know what we’re capable of as a group,” he said. “The fact that we are doing this is great.”


Series tied 3-3. Game 7, 1:00 PM EDT, ABC

– NEED TO KNOW: This match between No. 4 and No. 5 was every bit as exciting as advertised, with both teams winning 3-0 at home. The last series in which the home team won every game was 2018, a first-round game that Boston won against Milwaukee. … The Cavs last played a Game 7 at home in 2018, beating Indiana. … Orlando stretches into the regular season having lost seven straight road games.

– KEEP AN EYE ON: Cleveland’s bench. The Cavs’ supporting cast wasn’t nearly as helpful as it needed to be, averaging just 18 points in six games. Coach JB Bickerstaff needs more from his substitutes, especially Caris LeVert, who is averaging 6.2 points in the series – eight less than his season average.

– Injury note: Allen sat out Games 5 and 6 with a sore rib injury, and the Cavs missed their center man dearly. Allen is Cleveland’s most indispensable piece and without him the Cavs are missing 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 have spent the season looking for redemption from their first-round elimination by the Knicks a year ago. A loss on Sunday could lead to huge changes and perhaps influence whether Mitchell signs an extension with Cleveland this summer.