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Cavs get complete team effort in hard-fought Game 5 win over Orlando

Cleveland Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell (45) shoots surrounded by the Orlando Magic.
Ron Schwane
Cleveland Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell (45) shoots against the Orlando Magic during the first half of Game 5 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series, Tuesday, April 30, 2024, in Cleveland.

After getting blown out the last two games in Orlando, the Cavs pulled off a much-needed win over the Magic at home Tuesday night, 104-103. Cleveland now leads the first-round playoff series 3 -2.

Ideastream Public Media's sports commentator Terry Pluto said the team came together to grind out the Game 5 win without one of their best players, Jarrett Allen, who was out with a rib injury.

“I'm like, ‘Oof, this could go really bad.’ The Clevelander in me came out, you know, when all of a sudden we'd be in that mood of 'eat dirt and die.' And all of a sudden, Darius Garland comes out, scores 17 points in the first quarter. It was a team that really needed confidence early on, and they needed that,” Pluto said.

But in the last two games, the team has really struggled in the second half.

“Especially the third quarter,” Pluto said. “That quarter in Orlando, that belonged to the Magic. And like magic, they had been able to kind of make the Cavs disappear after halftime. But this time the Cavs came out, they had a real solid third quarter. They won 27 to 23."

The team got 11 points from Max Strus in the third quarter

“So, it's a close game. You know, the fans are now screaming, pounding. They're going, ‘Maybe we could really kind of get rid of all that … the hangover of doubt from Orlando,’” Pluto said.

Then, the Cavs’ star, Donovan Mitchell, stepped up in the fourth quarter.

“Donovan Mitchell has been their best player all year. (He) responded with 14 points and he did it the hard way. He's been battling knee problems for about a month and a half. And of those 14 points, he scored nine of them at the foul line. And he was driving to the rim, getting knocked down, getting fouled, standing up, making free throws,” Pluto said.

The game came down a final block.

“Almost right at the end, they're up by two points. And Franz Wagner from the Magic drove to the rim, it looked like he’s going to make a layup and with five seconds left, Evan Mobley came from almost nowhere to block the shot,” Pluto said.

Pluto said it was a full team effort.

“Whether it's Darius Garland early or Donovan Mitchell late (or) a great play from Evan Mobley. The other big guy besides Jared Allen, Max Strus, a veteran. And then they even added another veteran (who) hardly played at all, Marcus Morris. And he scored 12 points. So, it was a great team effort. It was a loud night in the arena. It was really what I think about playoff basketball being fun for Cleveland fans. That's exactly what that game was,” Pluto said.

So far, the home team has won each game in the series. Game 6 is back in Orlando on Friday night.

“Even in the regular season, these two teams played four games. Cleveland won the two at Rocket Mortgage and Orlando won the two at their arena. So, we'll see what happens next” Pluto said.

Pluto said the Cavs are looking for their first playoff series win without LeBron James since 1993.

“That’s hanging over the franchise too. And you can be sure you know (owner) Dan Gilbert and the people that have been around with the Cavs are aware of that," Pluto said. "And it's really a mountain this franchise needs to climb is that they can win a playoff series without LeBron and develop their own identity.”

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