Cleveland Cavaliers star Donovan Mitchell was tossed from Thursday’s game against the Memphis Grizzlies for igniting an on-court scuffle after he absorbed a low blow from Dillon Brooks.
Brooks was on the ground after a blocked layup and flailed his arms at Mitchell’s groin area. Mitchell threw the ball at Brooks and then got in his face, sparking some pushing and shoving from both teams.
Brooks was assessed a Flagrant 2 for his actions, while Mitchell hit the showers early for throwing the ball at the pesky Memphis forward.
It was part of a rough night for Mitchell, who had just six points on 2-of-11 shooting before being tossed. Luckily, his teammates picked up the slack. Six players scored in double figures en route to a 128-113 victory, led by Darius Garland’s 32.
Mitchell Finds Support on Twitter After Ejection
It was quite the scene on the court but many believed Mitchell reacted within reason after taking what looked to be an intentional cheap shot from Brooks.
“Dillon Brooks hit Donovan Mitchell right in his stones. Mitchell had every right to react that way,” James Boyd of The Athletic tweeted. “And for the millionth time: The Grizzlies aren’t a real title-contending team as long as they rely on Brooks. He isn’t good enough for the shenanigans that come with him.”
That sentiment was echoed by others, who also lauded second-year big man Evan Mobley for restraining Mitchell and not making matters worse.
“Watching the video, you can see why Donovan Mitchell was ticked off,” Spencer Davies of BasketballNews.com tweeted. “Not that it matters more, but coming off a groin injury and getting hit there for no reason, that’s gonna elicit a reaction. Moreover, heads-up job by Evan Mobley to restrain Mitchell.”
While public perception appeared to be on Mitchell’s side, TNT announcer and Hall of Famer Reggie Miller felt the Cavs guard was the aggressor in the confrontation.
“Mitchell came up and shoved him and threw him down,” Miller said while watching a replay. “Clearly, Mitchell was the aggressor, just by looking at it initially.”
Cavaliers Trying to Shut Out Negativity
The Cavaliers entered Thursday’s matchup 31-22 but have been unable to string together wins. The team hasn’t won consecutive games since early January, going 4-6 in their last 10 games.
Cleveland’s most recent loss came against the Miami Heat, which sparked some strong comments from coach JB Bickerstaff.
“I think in all the noise and chatter, people forget how much this group has accomplished,” Bickerstaff said during practice on February 1. “We’re the No. 1 ranked defense in the NBA, still. We’ve got the second-best net rating in the NBA. There are seven teams that have more than 30 wins in the NBA, and we’re one of those teams. The teams that are ahead of us are teams that have been weathered and been through things that have built that.
“Sometimes, I think people wanna skip steps in getting where we all want to go. We’re not putting a roof on our guys, but what they’ve accomplished at this age is above and beyond what is standard. I think they need to know that, and they need to appreciate it.”
It’s still to be seen if the Cavs will decide to make a move at the trade deadline to shake things up, or if they feel like they have enough to compete for a title as currently constructed.