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Donovan Mitchell scores 39 points as Cavaliers pass Magic 106-94 in Game 7 to get Boston next

The Cavs now begin the second round against the top-seeded and well-rested Boston Celtics in Game 1 on Tuesday.

In the closing minutes, Cleveland’s towel-waving crowd chanted, “We want Boston!” – a match that didn’t look likely an hour earlier.

Paolo Banchero scored 38 — just 14 after halftime — and added 16 rebounds to lead the Magic, who grew up in the series but couldn’t figure out how to win in Cleveland as both teams served on their floors.

Orlando’s Franz Wagner and Jalen Suggs combined to go 3 of 28 from the field.

Trailing by 10 at halftime, Cleveland increased its defensive intensity in the third quarter, outscoring Orlando 33-15. The Magic went just 4 of 24 from the field in the period and looked hesitant as they waited for Banchero to do more.

The Cavs led 85-77 in the fourth when Garland, who showed frustration earlier in the half before getting a pep talk on the bench from Mitchell, nailed a 3-pointer from the corner to put Cleveland up 11.

After his shot fell and Orlando called a timeout, a relieved Garland hugged Mitchell, acquired from Utah in a trade two years ago to hopefully move Cleveland closer to another championship.

The Cavs are taking another step with him.

Cleveland was once again without starting center Jarrett Allen, who missed the final three games in the series with a painful rib injury suffered by an errant Magic elbow.

Before getting injured, Allen was Cleveland’s most consistent player against the Magic. He grabbed 20 rebounds in Game 2 while giving the Cavs a defensive presence underneath to at least deter Orlando drives.

Led by the 21-year-old Banchero, the Magic, who won just 22 games two years ago before selecting him with the No. 1 overall pick in the draft, were 24 minutes away from winning a series where they trailed 2-0 .

But Orlando didn’t have enough – or Mitchell.

When the Cavs needed a big play, the All-Star guard made one. Whenever a teammate needed support, he was there. And by scoring 89 points in the last two games, Mitchell may have finally silenced the critics who point to his inability to close out the playoffs.

The Cavs trailed by 18 in the first half and appeared to be on the cusp of an early summer.

But with LeVert and Sam Merrill providing the spark, Cleveland was able to take Orlando’s lead. Cleveland missed its first nine three-pointers and was in deep trouble, trailing 47-39.

LeVert, who has been slowed by a knee injury, attacked the basket and scored on two drives and Merrill hit his second 3-pointer as the Cavs, who started 0 for 9 on 3s, made seven of their last nine shots to pull within 53 come. -43 at halftime.

The offensive woes that plagued Cleveland in the fourth quarter of Game 6 – when Mitchell scored all 18 points for the Cavs – continued.

There was too much circumstance, bad shots and turnovers, and when the Magic rolled off 13 straight plays to open a 10-point lead, Cleveland’s crowd let the Cavs know it with more than a little boos.

But in the end, as Mitchell dribbled out the final seconds, all was forgotten

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

Tom Withers, The Associated Press