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May 8, 2024 3:16 pm

Cavs look to brush off opener, ‘steal’ Game 2 in Boston

Celtics, Cavaliers

The visiting Cleveland Cavaliers look to even their second-round Eastern Conference semifinals series against the Boston Celtics when the teams play Game 2 of the best-of-seven series Thursday night.

The top-seeded Celtics pulled away in the second half of Game 1 to earn a 120-95 victory on Tuesday.

“Obviously there’s a lot of areas that we can improve on,” Cleveland coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “Facing a team like Boston, I think it’s good to be able to play them and see them, and then play 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 the series that we just came from (against Orlando) that was more of a half-court slugfest. … We’ll learn from it and we’ll be better on Thursday.”

Cleveland’s Donovan Mitchell said the improvement has to start on offense. The fourth-seeded Cavaliers have failed to score 100 points in six of their eight playoff games.

“We got (42) 3s up and we hit 11,” said Mitchell, who scored a game-high 33 points in Game 1. “I think the biggest thing now is just being able to hit and knock them down.”

Boston received 32 points from Jaylen Brown and 25 from Derrick White, who sank seven 3 pointers.

“I think the most important thing is to win,” White said. “I’ve said before, it doesn’t matter if I score zero or score however many I scored (Tuesday). When we win, I’m doing enough.”

Cleveland was held to 15 points in the second quarter and trailed 59-49 at halftime. Boston led by 15 points after three quarters and opened the fourth on a 10-2 run.

“I thought we created some open shots,” Bickerstaff said. “I think we got some of the looks we were looking for; they just didn’t go. I think we missed four or five layups in that second quarter. Typically, we make those. We got some open 3s from guys who we wanted to take them. We’ll make more of those as the series goes along.”

Brown said it would be a mistake to read too much into the Game 1 result, especially since Cleveland had little time to recover after it advanced with a Game 7 victory over Orlando on Sunday.

“Anything can happen,” Brown said. “It’s the NBA playoffs. We’re just taking it one game at a time and that’s all we can control. And we try to come out, be the harder playing team. We stick to our agenda and we let the chips fall where they may. It’s gonna be tough for a team to have to beat us four times. But as long as we come out, we execute both ends, we’re the harder playing team, I think we’ll be fine.”

After Thursday, the series shifts to Cleveland for Game 3 (Saturday) and Game 4 (Monday). The Celtics won two of their three games against the Cavaliers during the regular season, but Cleveland won the only game it played at home.

“They came out here and did what they were supposed to do,” Mitchell said. “Now we have to find a way to steal Game 2.”

–Field Level Media

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