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The Cavaliers were at their best with their backs against the wall

BOSTON — The league keeps trying to bury them, but they keep coming back to life.

This is the story so far for the 2023-24 Cavaliers.

Cavs coach JB Bickerstaff recently called them a team “left for dead” at various points during the season by many people. He wasn’t wrong.

It would be a lot easier if it hadn’t been done this way, but the Cavs seem to be returning to their highest level of play shortly after falling to their lowest level. Being “left for dead” seems to work wonders for them.

Time and again, a brutal loss, a losing streak or a tough break on the injury front have been followed by the Cavs’ best moments.

“It speaks to the unity of the group, the confidence of the group and the importance of winning for them,” Bickerstaff said Thursday after the Cavs’ 118-94 victory over the Boston Celtics in Game 2, after a resounding defeat. in the first game, because of course it is. “There’s no other program. We have playoff games ahead of us that we have to win, and the guys sacrifice and are willing to do whatever it takes to win. They don’t want to disappoint themselves. “

Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell (45) reacts after a first-quarter basket by forward Evan Mobley against the Celtics in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinals, May 9, 2024, in Boston.Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell (45) reacts after a first-quarter basket by forward Evan Mobley against the Celtics in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinals, May 9, 2024, in Boston.

Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell (45) reacts after a first-quarter basket by forward Evan Mobley against the Celtics in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinals, May 9, 2024, in Boston.

Losing streaks during the regular season were followed by torrid spurts that included some of their best basketball. After losing Darius Garland and Evan Mobley to serious injuries in a matter of hours, instead of the season being all but over, the Cavs found their rhythm, discovered perhaps their most effective offensive style and recorded one of the best records in the league during the season. the next weeks.

They limped into the playoffs to win Games 1 and 2 against the Orlando Magic wire to wire.

After the absolute defeats in Orlando in Games 3 and 4, the Cavs won Game 5 in exciting fashion. Then, after losing Game 6 and falling within an 18-point gap in Game 7, with their playoff hopes quickly fading and summer upon them, the Cavs rallied to win a historic victory.

The Cavaliers rebound from a blowout loss in Game 1 to beat the Boston Celtics in Game 2 and even the series

Cavaliers guard Caris LeVert shoots against Celtics guard Derrick White in the first quarter during Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinals, May 9, 2024, in Boston.Cavaliers guard Caris LeVert shoots against Celtics guard Derrick White in the first quarter during Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinals, May 9, 2024, in Boston.

Cavaliers guard Caris LeVert shoots against Celtics guard Derrick White in the first quarter during Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinals, May 9, 2024, in Boston.

Then they get dismantled with a 25-point loss in Game 1 of the second round against the Boston Celtics. When the final whistle blew Tuesday night, a four-game sweep seemed more possible than ever.

So what is happening once again with our backs against the wall Thursday night in Boston? The Cavs crush the No. 1 seed Celtics, the team that won 64 games and was the best team in the East by a mile in Game 2 with a blowout 26-point victory to even the series 1-1. Celtics fans left the arena with five minutes remaining.

The Cavs have been a shovelful of dirt away from being completely buried on multiple occasions, only to reach through the threshold and climb out like in almost every old-fashioned zombie movie ever made.

“I think the biggest thing is we have a group that sticks together and believes in each other,” said Donovan Mitchell, who scored a game-high 29 points in the Game 2 victory . “It’s easy to say, ‘We don’t have it, we don’t have it.’ Everyone wants to move forward in the playoffs and (say) different things… For us, it’s about continuing to build and believe in each other as a group.”

They will remain big underdogs to win this series against the Celtics, the team that rose to first place in the East. But regardless of the series outcome or how this postseason ends for them, the Cavaliers have shown a remarkable knack for revealing themselves just as the sunlight and all hope begin to fade. fade.

As Mitchell added, speaking about their never-say-die mentality that has saved their season and playoffs many times now, “Understanding that we’ve been through so much, why stop now?”

Ryan Lewis can be contacted at [email protected]. Follow him on Threads at @ByRyanLewis.

This article originally appeared on Akron Beacon Journal: The Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the Boston Celtics in Game 2 to tie the series 1-1.