Donovan Mitchell, Cavaliers focused on playoff success, not future speculation


CLEVELAND — The Eastern Conference is jumbled with teams that have stretches of dominance mixed with runs of confusion and inconsistency — yet optimism remains.

The Cleveland Cavaliers fit right into both categories, at times spellbinding and other times confounding. They’re better built than the bunch that went out meekly to the New York Knicks in five games in the first round last year, and despite injuries to almost every key player, the Cavaliers are on track for another 50-win season.

They’ve battled health and inconsistency, but still sit third in the East. The Cavaliers are no longer riding the 17-1 stretch from early January to mid-February that put them right in the thick of things in the conference. In fact, without it they’re 29-29 after Tuesday’s win against the Utah Jazz. But that’s not how this works. All the games count. All the pieces matter.

Milwaukee is struggling, the New York Knicks are in a free fall. Philadelphia is depending on the health of the returning Joel Embiid. Miami has been up and down all year.

So Cleveland isn’t alone here.

(Amy Monks/Yahoo Sports Illustration)

It’s just been rare all the pieces have been fully healthy and firing at the same time. You almost feel like there’s too much talent, even if there’s no overpowering, physically imposing supernova.

The Cavaliers were without both point guard Darius Garland and big man Evan Mobley in December and January, leaving All-Star Donovan Mitchell the keys. It was where he entered the back end of the MVP discussion, averaging nearly 29 points with seven assists and five rebounds on 50/38/82 splits during the streak.

Not only was he healthy, he was destructive and played with a freedom that permeated to his teammates.

“A lot of it came by necessity. I felt like I was playing pretty well (before). But it’s how you get respect, is by winning,” Mitchell told Yahoo Sports. “Continuing to make plays, being a better defender, rebounder. Being a passer is huge as well.”

The Cavs’ lone loss in that 17-1 stretch was to the Bucks, but not only did they turn around and beat them in the baseball series road-road matchup…

Source link :

Author :

Publish date : 2024-04-03 19:23:54

Copyright for syndicated content belongs to the linked Source.