Cavaliers Rally Past Magic to Win First Playoff Series Without LeBron James in Over Three Decades

May 5, 2024; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell (45) celebrates with guard Darius Garland (10).
May 5, 2024; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell (45) celebrates with guard Darius Garland (10). / Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

To tell the story of the Cleveland Cavaliers is—with a few exceptions—to tell the story of now-Los Angeles Lakers and former Cavaliers forward LeBron James. The NBA's longtime leading scorer was the architect of all five of the team's conference titles and every one of their playoff series wins since 1993...

...until Sunday. After going down by 18 during a nightmarish first half, Cleveland rallied past the Orlando Magic 106-94 to advance to the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Boston Celtics.

Guard Donovan Mitchell paced the Cavaliers with 39 points, nine rebounds and five assists, while forward Paolo Banchero tallied 38 points and 16 rebounds in defeat.

The last time Cleveland advanced in a playoffs without James, it defeated the New Jersey Nets three games to two in a best-of-five first round series—losing to guard Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls in the conference semifinals.

The Magic led the Cavaliers 49-31 with 4:17 left in the first half. Orlando's blown lead is the largest in a Game 7 since the NBA began tracking play-by-play data in 1997.


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Patrick Andres

PATRICK ANDRES

Patrick Andres has been a Staff Writer on the Breaking & Trending News Team at Sports Illustrated since 2022. Before SI, his work appeared in The Blade, Athlon Sports, Fear the Sword, and Diamond Digest. Patrick has covered everything from zero-attendance Big Ten basketball to a seven-overtime college football game. He is a graduate of Northwestern University.