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Cleveland Cavaliers Secure First Playoff Series Win Without LeBron James in 31 Years

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After a thrilling Game 7 victory against the Orlando Magic, the Cleveland Cavaliers have achieved a historic milestone: their first playoff series win without LeBron James since 1993. Led by star guard Donovan Mitchell, the Cavaliers overcame an 18-point first-half deficit to secure the victory and advance to the second round of the 2024 NBA playoffs.

A single tweet from Legion Hoops (@LegionHoops) on May 5th, 2024, sparked a wave of excitement in Cleveland: “The Cavaliers have their first playoff series win without LeBron James in 31 years. .” This seemingly simple statement captured a monumental moment in Cavaliers history, marking the end of an era and the dawn of a new one.

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The LeBron James Era

LeBron James

LeBron James, undoubtedly the greatest Cavalier in history, played a pivotal role in the team’s success during his tenure. From 2015 to 2018, he led the Cavaliers to four consecutive NBA Finals appearances, including the iconic 2016 championship victory. However, when James departed for the Miami Heat in 2010 and later for the Los Angeles Lakers in 2018, the Cavaliers struggled to maintain their winning ways. In both instances, the team finished with dismal records of 19-63.

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The Long Wait

For decades, Cleveland fans yearned for another playoff series win without their hometown hero. The last time it happened was on May 9, 1993, when the Cavaliers defeated the New Jersey Nets in a winner-take-all Game 5 of their first-round series. That victory marked the end of an era, and the subsequent years were filled with playoff disappointments.

Donovan Mitchell’s Heroics for Cavaliers

Cavaliers Secure First Playoff Series Win Without LeBron James in 31 Years

Fast forward to 2024, and the Cavaliers found themselves facing the Orlando Magic in another Game 7. Trailing by 18 points early in the game, the team rallied behind Donovan Mitchell, who scored an impressive 39 points in the decisive matchup. Mitchell’s 89 points across Games 6 and 7 set a new franchise record for scoring in a playoff series, surpassing even LeBron James himself.

A New Era in Cleveland

The current Cavaliers roster, featuring young talents like Darius Garland, Evan Mobley, and Isaac Okoro, is determined to create its legacy. Point guard Darius Garland summed it up best: “It’s a rebirth in Cleveland. It would mean a lot to all of us” to achieve this milestone. With their Game 7 victory, this group of players has taken a significant step forward, and they now face a tougher challenge in the second round against the Boston Celtics.

 

ALSO READ: Geno Auriemma: A Beacon of Leadership in Women’s College Basketball

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