Donovan Mitchell Drops 2-Word Demand to Cavs After Blowout Loss

Donovan Mitchell Cleveland Cavaliers

Getty Donovan Mitchell #45 of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Things went far from according to plan on Friday night for the Cleveland Cavaliers. On the second night of a back-to-back, the Cavs squared off against the Atlanta Hawks, a team reeling after firing its head coach last week and far from the top-tier caliber opponent Cleveland narrowly lost to the night before in the Denver Nuggets.

And from what felt like the opening tip, the Cavs were playing from behind. Ultimately, the Cavs fell 136-119 for the team’s third-straight loss.

Afterward, Donovan Mitchell kept things simple in his demand that the team step up.

“It’s time,” Mitchell said, per Chris Fedor of “It’s that time I was telling you about at the beginning of the year. It’s time to pick it up. We’ve dropped these two. Now we have to go and respond.”

If anyone knows what that “time” is on this Cavs team, it’s Mitchell. Among Cleveland’s typical starting five, he’s the only one with any meaningful playoff experience (apologies to Jarrett Allen‘s nine-game playoff resume, the last eight of which were losses).

At this point in the season, it will be incumbent upon guys like Mitchell and Danny Green to provide some playoff-seasoned experience to the roster.

Mitchell Refuses to Excuse Poor Performance

The night before, the Cavs came close to knocking off the West’s top-seeded Denver Nuggets, thanks in no small part to Evan Mobley‘s brilliant first three quarters.

Mobley went to work punishing the Nuggets’ paint defenders, which as a team rank as one of the worst in the league, per Cleaning the Glass.

Cleveland also boasts a strong paint defense, anchored by the team’s two stud big men Mobley and Allen. But against the Hawks on Friday, it certainly didn’t appear that way.

The Cavs surrendered a blistering 58 points in the paint against a Hawks team that is mediocre at shots around the rim, but decent in the paint.

It’s not a recipe for playoff success, and Mitchell knows it.

“I’m not going to go out and make any excuses,” Mitchell explained. “Everybody can go out and say we played last night, but I’m not hearing it. We have to continue to build and get better. We just didn’t come out the right way and that’s on us. We all have to take that. We have to find a way to do it.”

The good news is that Cleveland generally should stack up well against most teams at the rim and paint. The bad news? Cleveland well could have cleaned up in the post and still been bested by the Hawks.

Three Point Woes Continue for Cavs

Despite boasting a top-10 offense this season, one area that’s continued to flummox Cleveland is three-point shooting. And those woes were on full display Friday night.

Cleveland started 0-10 from deep, a key reason why the Cavs got into such a deep hole early in the game. But that’s par for the course for Cleveland; the Cavs’ three-point accuracy is down to a grisly 36.3%, not far from the lottery-bound Detroit Pistons (36.3%) and San Antonio Spurs (35.3%). On Friday night, Cleveland finished at 37.1%, going 13-35 from deep.

One trouble spot is Isaac Okoro. Despite growing in confidence and consistency over the last few months, the former Auburn Tiger is scuffling of late. He’s down to 5.0 points per game on 26% from three over the Cavs’ last four games. He finished two of eight from the field, including one of three from deep on Friday.

Coincidentally, Cleveland has dropped three of those four. That’s not to say the Cavs’ hopes rise and fall with Okoro’s shot, but he may well be a healthy barometer for how the team is faring on any given night.

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