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Donovan Mitchell brought redemption and relief to himself and the Cavaliers. A year after struggling in the first round of the NBA playoffs, Cleveland is advancing.

Mitchell made sure of it. “This is why I’m here,” he said. “It’s my responsibility.” Mitchell scored 39 points, with Caris LeVert adding 15, as Cleveland rallied for a 106-94 victory over the Orlando Magic in Game 7 to move forward in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

The Cavs were down by 18 points in the first half and faced the possibility of an early elimination for the second straight year, which might have resulted in significant changes.

But Mitchell, who scored 50 points in a Game 6 loss against Orlando and has been dealing with a left knee injury, led the Cavs to victory. He guided them past a talented Orlando team that lacked playoff experience, particularly in the second half.

“I don’t want to sound disrespectful, but this victory doesn’t mean everything,” Mitchell said. “We didn’t enter just to win the first round. We achieved one goal, and now we have to repeat it. That’s our mindset.”

According to the NBA, Cleveland’s comeback is the largest in a Game 7 since the league began tracking play-by-play in 1997-98.

Evan Mobley collected 16 rebounds, and Darius Garland made a crucial 3-pointer in the fourth quarter for Cleveland. This happened after Mitchell’s motivational chat. It’s the first time the Cavs have won a playoff series without LeBron James since 1993.

Cleveland will start the second round away against the top-seeded Celtics in Game 1 on Tuesday. Boston won two out of three games against Cleveland this season.

In the final minutes, the crowd at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse chanted, “We want Boston!” This matchup seemed unlikely just an hour earlier. “I think everyone expects Boston to dominate us,” Mitchell said. “So for us to keep our composure and stay true to ourselves is crucial.”

Paolo Banchero scored 38 points, but only 14 came after halftime. He also grabbed 16 rebounds for the Magic. They showed improvement during the series but couldn’t win in Cleveland, with both teams winning on their home courts.

Orlando’s Franz Wagner and Jalen Suggs struggled, shooting a combined 3 of 28 from the field. The pressure was too much for the Magic, who pushed the Cavs to their limits. “After the first game, some doubted our readiness,” Banchero said. “But our comeback shows our potential and what we can achieve.”

Trailing by 10 points at halftime, Cleveland stepped up its defense in the third quarter, outscoring Orlando 33-15. The Magic struggled, making only 4 of 24 shots in the period, and appeared unsure, relying heavily on Banchero.

In the fourth quarter, with Cleveland leading 85-77, Garland, who had faced foul trouble in the first half and was visibly frustrated, made a crucial 3-pointer from the corner, extending Cleveland’s lead to 11 points.

After the shot, Mitchell, who was traded from Utah two years ago with the hope of bringing Cleveland closer to another championship, hugged a relieved Garland. This marked another step forward for the Cavs with him.

“We’ve been working at this for two years, trying to get past the first round, so he knew we all wanted it,” Garland said. “He knew I was struggling a bit in the first half, but he kept believing in me.”

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