Cleveland Cavaliers guard Darius Garland didn’t hold back when asked if the second half was a turning point for a game against the Boston Celtics despite the Cavs battling back and having “playoff intensity” at the end.
“They picked up their intensity and played some playoff basketball in that second half,” Garland said during a postgame press conference. “Brought the physicality. Coming out in that third quarter, they punched us right in the mouth and I think we waited too long to respond and punch back.
“That’s where we have to grow. They’ve been there before.”
It’s not the first time the Cavs were punched in the mouth this season.
At one point, the Cavaliers had 11 comeback victories when down by double-digits and nine when trailing by the third.
“That’s just our mindset, really,” Darius Garland said. “We’ve done it before. We’ve done it 11 times, like (Cleveland.com Cavs reporter Chris Fedor) said. So we know we can do it.”
But, as the season dragged on, teams started to figure out how to seal a victory against the former comeback kings.
The Cavaliers fought through an onslaught of 3-point makes in the first quarter of a game against the Philadelphia 76ers just before the All-Star break. Though Darius Garland and the Cavs nearly managed to fight their way back into contention against the sharpshooting Sixers, they couldn’t keep up enough of a pace to take the win, falling 118-112 in the Wells Fargo Center.
“I honestly think we just found things that worked,” Cavs guard Donovan Mitchell said after the game. “They played well. They came out aggressive. We just continued to trust it and played with a little more, I don’t want to call it a sense of urgency, but I think we just played with a little more force.
“Realized we could get downhill, get open shots, make plays defensively and that’s what allowed us to put that stuff together.”