Darius Garland made two free throws with 9.4 seconds left and the Cleveland Cavaliers rallied from 19 points down in the third quarter to beat the Boston Celtics 91-89 on Saturday night to open a two-game set.
Dennis Schroder had an opportunity to force overtime for Boston but missed a jumper from the right baseline as time expired. There were five lead changes and seven ties in the final seven minutes.
The teams will meet again Monday at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.
The Celtics built their largest lead at 72-53 with 3:05 left in the third, but the Cavaliers answered with a 24-4 run to go ahead 77-76 on Ricky Rubio’s free throw with 6:43 remaining in the game.
Garland finished with 22 points and six assists, rookie Evan Mobley had 19 points, nine rebounds and three blocks, and Rubio had 16 points and seven assists. Cleveland has won six of its last seven and is off to its best start in five years at 9-5.
Schroder scored 28 points and gave Boston its final advantage at 87-85 on a drive with 1:59 left. Jayson Tatum scored 21 points and tied the score with a pull-up basket with 30 seconds remaining, but shot just 8 of 22 and was 1 of 8 on 3-pointers.