Cleveland Cavaliers, Dallas Mavericks try to keep NBA home court advantage tonight

Celtics forward Jayson Tatum, left, keeps the ball away from Cleveland Cavaliers guard Max Strus during the second half of Game 2 of their NBA second-round playoff series Thursday in Boston. (AP photo)

Donovan Mitchell and the Cleveland Cavaliers took the home-court advantage with a Game 2 victory in Boston, the same way Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks did in Oklahoma City.

Now the Cavs and Mavs try to keep that edge against each conference’s top seeds in their respective Game 3s at home today.

The Celtics, who had the best record in the NBA, had the same problem in the first round, losing Game 2 to Miami before winning the final three games of the series.

“Nobody’s in there defeated or deflated,” said Jayson Tatum, who scored 25 points in Boston’s 118-94 loss. “You never want to lose in the playoffs. We can learn from it. We get it. The world thinks we’re never supposed to lose. We’re supposed to win every game by 25. And it’s not going to be like that all the time.”

It’s a repeat for Dallas, too. The Mavs, seeded fifth in the Western Conference, lost the series opener at the Los Angeles Clippers before getting the road split in what ended up being a six-game victory.

Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart reacts after scoring three points during the second half of Game 3 of an NBA first-round playoff series against the Brooklyn Nets on April 23, 2022, in New York. (AP file photo)

“It doesn’t change anything,” said Tim Hardaway Jr., who had his playoff high with 17 points in Dallas’ 119-110 victory.

Boston’s outside shooting was the biggest issue in Game 2. The Celtics went 8 of 35 behind the arc — 2 of 18 in the second half.

“Overall we just missed some shots and let it translate, and in the playoffs that can’t happen,” said Jaylen Brown, who missed all six 3s. “We can’t miss shots and then allow them to make shots on the other end. That’s unacceptable.”

The Cavs, seeded fourth in the East, played freely and fearlessly in Game 2, especially Evan Mobley, who finished with 21 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and two blocks while playing center with Jarrett Allen again out with bruised ribs.

Doncic, who has played with a sprained right knee since Game 3 vs. the Clippers, was shooting 39.5% overall and 24% on 3s in the playoffs before going 11 of 21 and 5 of 8 in a 29-point performance against the Thunder.

Kyrie Irving had just the third single-digit scoring game of his 82-game playoff career with nine points, but seemed to sense his shot was off and had just eight attempts, making two

, while playing the same solid defense he has most of this postseason and leading the Mavs with 11 assists.

“I know he’s probably not labeled a defender but here of late he’s playing defense at a high level,” coach Jason Kidd said. “I thought tonight he did set the table offensively for a lot of guys. But I thought his defense was really, really good, and we’re going to need that as we go forward.”



Series tied 1-1. Game 3, 3:30 p.m. EDT, ABC

• NEED TO KNOW: Dallas capitalized on the Game 2 victory at the Clippers by winning Game 3 at home three years after losing all three games at American Airlines Center in a first-round series loss to LA. The Mavericks are 8-3 at home in their past two postseasons, including a run to the West finals in 2022. Oklahoma City’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is averaging 31 points through the first two games, while Mavs 3-and-D specialist P.J. Washington is coming off a postseason best of 29 points in his playoff debut.

• KEEP AN EYE ON: Irving has had a tendency to turn up his offensive game either when Doncic struggles or the situation in the game dictates it. While Irving’s defense and distributing were big for Dallas in Game 2, look for the eight-time All-Star to be aiming for something closer to his career playoff scoring average of 23 points.

• INJURY WATCH: The Game 2 win was the best Doncic, who is listed as questionable, has looked on his right knee since injuring it against the Clippers. He wasn’t any worse for the wear after a face plant on the first possession had him fiddling with his teeth throughout the first quarter, or when he turned up with a bloodied left knee later. Hardaway had by far his best game of the postseason after missing the final four games of the Clippers series with a sprained right ankle.

• PRESSURE IS ON: Chet Holmgren played a big role in Oklahoma City’s comfortable Game 1 victory but didn’t have the same impact in the loss with 11 points on 4-of-12 shooting. He was 1 of 6 from deep as Oklahoma City finished 10 of 30 (33%), coming off a 16-of-35 showing (46%) in the series opener.



Series tied 1-1. Game 3, 8:30 p.m. EDT, ABC

• NEED TO KNOW: After a quick turnaround following its rough seven-game series against Orlando, Cleveland learned lessons from Game 1. Mobley flexed offensive muscle, Mitchell did his usual thing, and the Cavs played their most well-rounded game of these playoffs — six players scored in double figures. Mitchell is averaging 29.8 points in the last five games.

• KEEP AN EYE ON: Boston’s offensive flow. The Celtics relied on too much isolation in Game 2, a strategy that backfired as Cleveland’s defenders either contested shots or forced them into rushing 3-pointers late in the shot clock.

• INJURY WATCH: Allen has missed the past five games with an injury that has made it difficult for him to raise his arms above his head. Allen, who has been a steadying presence all season for Cleveland, has made progress and will likely test the injury at some point. He is listed as questionable. … Boston’s Kristaps Porzingis will miss a fourth consecutive game with a right calf strain.

• PRESSURE IS ON: The Celtics were expected to roll through a series that has shifted dramatically. Boston’s last visit to Cleveland in March didn’t go well. The Celtics blew a 22-point lead in the fourth quarter and lost to a Cavs team missing Mitchell.


AP Sports Writer Tom Withers contributed to this report.


AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/NBA


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