All eyes might have been on Cleveland Cavaliers All-Star Donovan Mitchell on Tuesday night after a vicious dunk over Nets big man Yuta Watanabe. The former Louisville Cardinal, however, freely admits his attention was elsewhere.
“Outside of me letting Mikal Bridges get downhill instead of being in help because I was still thinking about the dunk,” Mitchell told reporters in a video posted to his team’s official YouTube channel when asked how the dunk changed things for the Cavs.
“Typically it’s getting my a** back on defense,” Mitchell said. “I didn’t do that today, they got a bucket…That’s really what it is. Yeah, I dunked on them. But I gave up the points right back. Whoever was on the ball did a great job. I wasn’t in my shift spot to deter Mikal from driving to the rim to get the floater. So, at the end of the day, it’s great to have a dunk but you got to get back.”
But Mitchell also noted how the dunk brought some fire to the Cavs, ultimately helping the team secure a 109-105 win over the Nets.
“[The dunk] really sparked us. I feel like it kind of gave us a bit of a boost.”
While the dunk was an impressive one — Mitchell’s 6’1 frame launched over the 6’8 Watanabe to seal the deal — not everyone could call it “perfect.”
Jarrett Allen Sounds Off on Donovan Mitchell Dunk
Count Cavs big man Jarrett Allen among the bunch who couldn’t give it a 10 out of 10.
“That was one of his better ones,” Jarrett Allen said. “It’s funny, we were talking about dunking, Donovan dunking, before the game and he had an excellent one. I give it a 9.7 out of 10,” Allen told Chris Fedor of cleveland.com after the game.
For Allen, perfection is something that’s near impossible to accomplish.
“I don’t know,” Allen said. “But I’m not a guy that can say it’s perfect.”
In fairness, even Mitchell wasn’t sure if the spectacular slam was the best of his career.
“It was not bad,” Mitchell said. “Everybody’s reaction in the timeout, it was like, ‘That’s your best one.’ It’s up there. I don’t know if it’s my best, but it’s definitely up there.”
Nonetheless, the win is a promising sign against a team the Cavs’ preferred playoff opponent.
Cavaliers Hope to See Nets in First Round of Playoffs
“No one inside the organization would say this publicly — and they shouldn’t. But multiple people I’ve spoken to recently are privately hoping for a Brooklyn matchup,” Fedor reported last week.
Brooklyn’s lack of star power is an apparent motivating factor behind the Cavs’ hopes, Fedor explained.
“Brooklyn was 32-20 at the time it dealt Kyrie Irving — a move that preceded Kevin Durant’s departure. While the Nets haven’t completely imploded since those two megadeals, their organizational ceiling has lowered considerably, and they no longer pose the same challenge in a seven-game series. The last time they looked — and consistently played — like a playoff-caliber team was when Irving and Durant were both there. The Nets are 7-11 over the last month-plus without those two superstars. They also have the most inexperienced coach of the potential first-round foes,” Fedor completed.
The Nets also lack quality bigs, an area the Cavaliers excel in behind Allen and sophomore stud Evan Mobley.