The Cleveland Cavaliers did their best to make things interesting late on Wednesday against the Celtics. And by late, I mean less than two minutes left in the game late. Cavs All-Star Donovan Mitchell was substituted with about seventy seconds remaining in the game — his first break of the entire second half.
A series of quick steals and triples from Darius Garland pulled the game to within five. Faced with the prospect of a late comeback, head coach JB Bickerstaff subbed Mitchell back in. Ultimately, the comeback fell short but showed an intensity and don’t-quit attitude missing from the Cavs for much of the season.
After the game, though, all eyes were not on the scoreboard, but rather Mitchell’s right leg. During the third quarter, Mitchell went down awkwardly and grabbed at his right groin, apparently in significant pain as he limped over to the sideline.
After the game, Mitchell couldn’t provide much of a timetable on the injury, putting off any official medical diagnosis until his game-borne adrenaline wore off.
“Can’t really tell you right now to be honest,” Mitchell said, per Chris Fedor of cleveland.com. “Will have to tell you in a couple days. Right now, I’m hyped up, so it’s a little different.”
But Mitchell no doubt feels the urgency of this part of the NBA calendar, telling Fedor that the Cavs need to start winning games after dropping their fourth out of five.
Mitchell’s Strength Called Out by Rival Head Coach
Despite missing 11 games this season, Mitchell’s availability has rarely been questioned around the league. He’s played in 65 games or more in all but one of his professional seasons, a sign of his durability and a testament to his conditioning and strength.
Unless this groin injury sidelines him for a significant period, he should once again meet that 65-game threshold.
After Sunday’s win over Toronto, Raptors head coach Nick Nurse explained how Mitchell’s toughness and strength stand out.
“His balance and his strength are impressive,” Nurse said, per Chris Fedor of cleveland.com. “It’s uncommon to see a guy do three directions in one move over and over. That’s what makes him unique.”
Cleveland’s matchup with the Celtics forecasted what could well be a thrilling playoff series. While the Celtics are one of the best teams in the league, they are just about average in defending the paint and rim.
Cleveland, on the other hand, feasts at the rim. Anchored by Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen, the Cavs could look to exploit that mismatch to their advantage.
Danny Green Calls Out ‘Hostile Environments’
Last week, recent addition Danny Green forecasted what the Cavaliers could expect come playoff time.
“Hostile environments. Every play, every possession is going to be intense,” Green explained.
Green’s advice: enjoy it.
“You’ve got to embrace it, lose yourself in the moment, lose yourself in the game,” Green explained. “At the same time, be on your P’s and Q’s, execute the best you can and doing your job. Not letting yourself down, your teammates down. We’re going to expect the most out of each other. Just making sure that everybody can embrace the moment and be ready for a hostile environment.”
The Cavs’ showdown with the Celtics undoubtedly counts as one of those “hostile” atmospheres Green warned of. With another game against Boston next week, the Cavs will get a shot to prove they can beat a legitimate Finals favorite.