Knicks ‘Donovan Mitchell Stoppers’ Prepare for Tough Playoff Matchup

Donovan Mitchell, Cleveland Cavaliers

Getty Cleveland Cavaliers star Donovan Mitchell throws a pass against New York Knicks guard Quentin Grimes.

Quentin Grimes and Josh Hart will have the unenviable task of trying to stop the rampaging Donovan Mitchell when the New York Knicks face the Cleveland Cavaliers in the first round of the NBA Playoffs.

Mitchell scored 42 points in their last meeting, but the Knicks slowed him down in the fourth quarter to take a 130-116 victory.

The Knicks limited him to only four points, with his only field goal coming in transition.

Mitchell torched Grimes’ defense with 19 points on 7-of-10 overall shooting and 4-of-5 3-pointers, according to’s matchup tracking data. Mitchell also had three assists during their matchup. But to Grimes’ credit, he also forced the Cavaliers star to three turnovers.

After Grimes scored a career-high 36 points against the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday, he said his focus starting next week is to study Mitchell.

“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.”

Mitchell’s 42-point effort against the Knicks was part of a four-game streak of scoring at least 40.

“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 added.

Hart, whom Thibodeau leaned on towards the latter part of the game, fared much better against the Cavaliers’ top-scoring option.

Mitchell’s only field goals against Hart came from behind the arc, going 2 for 3. He missed his two attempts inside the arc against Hart and committed one turnover against two assists.

“The challenge is to make him not score the [expletive] ball,” Hart told Newsday. “That’s the challenge. In the league, you have guys that no matter what you do, no matter how good the defense is, they’re gonna make shots. That’s what happens, especially when you sign up to be guarding the best players.”

For Hart, half of the battle is mental.

“I don’t think [Grimes] got really discouraged over anything that he was making or myself. Once you do that, you lose, you know what I mean? Sometimes you just gotta make it tough for them, and sometimes they’re gonna have games where they score 45 efficiently, and games they’re gonna score 25 inefficiently. You have to take the good with the bad, and that’s the biggest thing with us. We just gotta make it difficult for him,” Hart added.

Donovan Mitchell Excited to Face Knicks in Playoffs

Mitchell is unafraid of the Knicks despite his hometown team winning three of their four meetings this season.

“It’s a storybook [matchup],” Mitchell said after losing their final meeting against the Knicks on March 31. “It’s something that’s special and near and dear to me to be able to play playoff games in front of my friends and family. A team that I grew up watching. Against an assistant coach over there (Johnnie Bryant) who basically taught me everything I know at this point. It’s great, and I’m excited about the challenge.”

Mitchell, a Westchester native, always brings his A-game against the Knicks. He’s averaging 31.8 points, 7.5 assists and 4.8 rebounds. He’s hit 22 3-pointers on a staggering 46.8% accuracy in those four games. His 5.5 3s per game against the Knicks this season is his 2nd-most (tied with his former team Utah Jazz) against all NBA teams.

Knicks Injury Report Against Pelicans

Jalen Brunson will be out again against the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday in what the Knicks labeled as right hand injury maintenance. RJ Barrett is listed as questionable with an illness.

Immanuel Quickley and Hart are expected to start anew.

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