Donovan Mitchell Sounds Off on Darius Garland After Cavaliers Beat Pacers

Donovan Mitchell Cleveland Cavaliers

Getty Donovan Mitchell of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Though the Cleveland Cavaliers finished last season with the league’s fifth-best defense, the offense sputtered for much of last year. That’s precisely why the Cavs went out and added three-time All-Star and offensive dynamo Donovan Mitchell last summer.

Early on, questions were asked about Mitchell’s fit next to Darius Garland, who was named an All-Star last year with the Cavs. But with Cleveland heading for its first playoff berth since 2018, those questions have safely been answered.

After the Cavs beat the Pacers on Sunday night, Mitchell was asked to make the case for Garland to win the league’s teammate of the year award.

“His energy,” Mitchell began, per the Cavaliers’ official YouTube channel. “You know, good day, bad day, he’s always there. I think he has the pulse of the group. He has everybody’s ear and that’s, at a young age to have everyone’s ear, that’s something that speaks a lot about his character. I think that’s one of the first things that I noticed about him, he’s so poised for his age, and even while he’s still learning, he’s still able to be coachable and coach as well, be able to teach. He’s a guy you look at he’s always standing up on the bench cheering for guys, always giving his two cents. Things are going well, things are going not well, he’s always the same guy, same teammate for us.”

Mitchell and Garland have forged one of the best backcourt duos in the NBA this season. And the Cavs have picked up that flagging offense this season; they’re one of two teams (the Boston Celtics are the other) with a top-ten offense and defense this year.

JB Bickerstaff Calls Out Isaac Okoro After Beating Pacers

Currently the No. 4 seed in the East and boasting the league’s second-best net rating, few teams should be as giddy for playoff basketball as Cleveland.

While hopes are high, they certainly could be higher if the team was completely healthy. Isaac Okoro, the team’s starting swingman, has missed over a week with knee soreness.

According to coach JB Bickerstaff, Okoro is working his way back to 100%.

“We need to get him to a place better than he was,” Bickerstaff explained postgame. “If Isaac doesn’t play, it’s because he’s in real discomfort. We’ve got to make sure we’re taking the steps to get him to a place of comfort and safety. That’s more important. It’s something we’re just monitoring every day and hopefully, he continues to improve.”

When asked about a timeline for Okoro’s return, the Cavs’ head coach demurred.

“I don’t have an answer right now, to be honest with you,” Bickerstaff said. “We are trying to progress him. We’ll see what happens. We’ve always got to do what’s right by him.”

The injury woes harken back to last season’s disappointment. The Cavaliers were one of the league’s feel-good stories in 2021-22, looking destined for late-April basketball until a series of injuries derailed the team’s season.

Donovan Mitchell Sounds Off on Jalen Brunson

Another potential cause for concern: the Cavs’ recent ugly night against the New York Knicks, who is Cleveland’s likely first-round playoff opponent.

Knicks star Jalen Brunson torched the Cavs for nearly 50 points, something Mitchell spoke about after the loss.

“I’ve seen this for years. I saw the same thing last year,” Mitchell told reporters about Brunson’s night, per the Cavaliers’ official YouTube channel. “He’s just shifty. He can get to his spots, different ways. The biggest thing is he had [nearly] 50, but he had nine assists. That’s the standout.”

The Cavs are back in action Tuesday against Paolo Banchero and the Orlando Magic.