Josh Hart Takes Jab at Donovan Mitchell Ahead of Cavaliers-Knicks Playoff Series

Josh Hart New York Knicks

Getty Josh Hart of the New York Knicks.

The Cleveland Cavaliers are busy preparing for the franchise’s first playoff appearance since 2018, one that figures to be an electric showdown with the New York Knicks.

Exciting narratives abound. For the Knicks, the series is likely to be a referendum on the Jalen Brunson trade and the Donovan Mitchell near-trade. For the Cavaliers, the series will be a first glimpse at how far Mitchell, Darius Garland, Evan Mobley, and Jarrett Allen quartet can go without any prior experience together.

Neither side needs additional motivation. But that hasn’t stopped Knicks wing Josh Hart from adding some bulletin board material to the Cavaliers’ locker room.

“Nothing,” Hart told The Athletic about what makes guarding Mitchell difficult, before laughing. “He’s the easiest one to guard. Put that in there, right before the playoffs.”

In all earnestness, Hart is impressed by Mitchell’s game.

“He’s a really good scorer at all three levels,” Hart continued. “He’s efficient at all three levels. A lot of times, you want guys to try to force them to do something that they’re not comfortable with. And he’s someone who’s obviously athletic, is able to finish above the rim, finish through contact. He’s strong, has an explosive first step. He has that, but then he’s shooting 38 percent from 3 on, like, nine to 10 3s a game.”

Mitchell has indeed managed a career year with the Cavaliers. He shot .484/.386/.867 for the season, with a true shooting percentage of 61.4%.

Erik Spoelstra Praises Donovan Mitchell

But if there’s one thing nagging at Mitchell’s resume, it’s playoff success. Despite being the star on a slew of excellent regular season teams with the Utah Jazz, Mitchell hasn’t once played in a conference final.

For comparison, Jalen Brunson, Mitchell’s counterpart with the Knicks, is fresh off a Western Conference Finals run with the Dallas Mavericks one year ago.

But Mitchell earned high praise from across the league for putting together yet another impressive regular season. He’ll be at worst a Second-Team All-NBA guard if not First-Team.

“He’s as explosive as any guard in this league,” Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra told The Athletic. “He can go off at any time. He’s going to make you pay attention.”

Mitchell will certainly have his hands full against the Knicks. He provided a sample of what the Big Apple team could expect when the team met at the end of March when Mitchell exploded for 42 points.

Quentin Grimes Sounds Off on Donovan Mitchell

Quentin Grimes, the Knicks guard tasked with defending Mitchell in that Cavaliers’ loss in March, knows he’ll need to spend more time in the film room to prepare to see the Cavs guard in the playoffs.

“He can do a lot with the ball. He can shoot the ball from super deep out, so you kind of got to pressure him up,” Grimes said of Mitchell. “I just have to lock in. I’ll watch more films for sure, gotta just watch his latest games, but he’s been on terror really the past four or five games.”

“So [I] got to watch more films to see what I did wrong and just kind of make corrections and hopefully prepare better for it when we see them in the playoffs,” Grimes finished.

The Cavaliers will play the Knicks on Saturday night in Cleveland.

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