Cavaliers grind out victory over Magic in Game 1 of NBA playoff series

CLEVELAND — The Cavaliers and Orlando Magic wanted to throw the first punch in their first-round NBA playoff series.

Well, the Cavs succeeded, landing a body blow Saturday afternoon with a 97-83 victory over the Magic in Game 1 at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.

Tipoff for Game 2 of the best-of-seven Eastern Conference series between the fourth-seeded Cavs (48-34 in the regular season) and fifth-seeded Magic (47-35) is scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday in Cleveland.

Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell scored a game-high 30 points.
Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell scored a game-high 30 points.

The Cavs will look to further seize control with memories of last year's 4-1 first-round series loss to the New York Knicks hanging over coach J.B. Bickerstaff and Co.

Cavs All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell didn't let the left knee bone bruise he suffered in February noticeably slow him. He led all scorers with 30 points in Game 1. Center Jarrett Allen and forward Evan Mobley had 16 points apiece.

All-Star forward Paolo Banchero paced the Magic with 24 points. Forward Franz Wagner added 18.

The Cavs finished 36-of-81 shooting (44.4%) from the field (8 of 30 on 3-pointers). The Magic went 28-of-86 shooting (32.6%) from the floor (8 of 37 on 3s).

Cavs overcome poor 3-point shooting with defense and rebounding

The Cavs started the game 5 of 5 on 3-pointers but missed 18 in a row until point guard Darius Garland nailed one to end the drought and give them a 76-58 lead with 11:41 remaining in the fourth quarter. Mitchell's 3-pointer with 4:44 left in the fourth quarter served as a dagger, boosting the Cavs to an 88-74 advantage.

Defense and rebounding were the keys to the Cavs weathering their woes on offense.

The Cavs outrebounded the Magic 54-40. Allen grabbed a game-high 18 rebounds. Mobley tallied 11.

Cavs vs Magic tightened after Cleveland had built 12-point halftime lead

The Cavs led the Magic 53-41 at halftime, with Mobley's 16 first-half points leading the way, but Cleveland struggled mightily to start the second half.

The Cavs scored just two points in the first half of the third quarter. Meanwhile, Garland received treatment on his bothersome back in the early stages of the second half. He returned and finished with 14 points.

The Cavs twice had their lead reduced to four points in the third quarter. But Mitchell helped them regroup with seven third-quarter points, and they gained a 73-58 advantage entering the fourth quarter.

More importantly for the Cavs, they held on for a wire-to-wire win.

This article originally appeared on Akron Beacon Journal: Cavaliers take down Magic in Game 1 of NBA playoffs