Cleveland Cavaliers star Donovan Mitchell made his new team debut, and simply felt ‘a little different’

Philadelphia – Less than five weeks since it was acquired by the Cleveland Cavaliers in a stunning off-trade deal for an off-season crown in the NBA, Donovan Mitchell He made his Cavaliers debut Wednesday in the Cleveland season opener.

And after finishing with 16 points in 6-for-9, including 3-for-4 from 3-points, to go with five assists in 19 minutes in a 113-112 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers at Wells Fargo Center, Mitchell conceded the idea of ​​wearing a different jersey than the Utah jersey. Jazz that he wore for the first five years of his career, it will take some time to get used to.

“One hundred percent,” Mitchell said with a smile when asked if wearing a different shirt for the first time seemed weird. “It didn’t feel real… It still didn’t shock me yet.”

Mitchell said he spent Monday looking out of a Four Seasons window high up in downtown Philadelphia, and only then had he really drowned because he was about to officially play for another team for the first time.

“Today, I just kind of sat there and had one of those moments where you’re just sitting there and you look outside and it’s all like, ‘Wow,'” he said. It’s really here,” he said.

“Then once you get on the court, basketball becomes basketball. But all the little things, it’s definitely weird. A little different. But I’m excited. It’s going the way I thought it would, in a good way.”

Mitchell arrives in Cleveland to bolster a thriving young core that includes the All-Stars Darius Garland And the Garrett Allen And second place in last season’s Rookie of the Year award in Evan Mobley The Cavaliers hope this season will mark a slight increase in fortunes to places the franchise hasn’t seen in decades LeBron James He was not in town.

The last time Cleveland played the playoffs without James? 1997-98 season. The last time the Cavaliers won a playoff without him? Thirty seasons ago, in the 1992-93 season, when Cleveland swept Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls in four games in the Eastern Conference semi-finals.

But to do those things—particularly in what is arguably the deepest version of the Eastern Conference the NBA has seen in a generation or more—Cleveland will first need to get two of its dominant ball guards, Mitchell and Garland, on the same page.

Ahead of Wednesday night’s game, Cavaliers coach JB Bickerstaff set standards that will show the process take hold, saying the focus was on avoiding playing basketball “my league, my league.”

After that, he, Garland and Mitchell were thrilled with how things held together on the first dry run against another team.

“I thought it was very smooth,” Bickerstaff said. “The way they played together, the way the ball moved, everyone got involved… as long as we play the same style we want to play, where it doesn’t just depend on one person, but based on the team, I think it will work out well for us.”

Mostly, it happened on a Wednesday night. Mitchell’s first making as a Cavalier – 3-pointers from the right wing – came from a pass from Garland, who finished with 12 points and four assists in a 4-for-7 shot in 15 minutes, and was trapped between Mitchell’s situation. above Kevin Love For a pair of triple the same.

“I think we did a lot of things really well,” Mitchell said. “She walks on the floor and it’s like, ‘He’s got it.’ But it’s not like ‘He’s got it in solitude.’ It’s like he’s got it, make a play, create…

Having relied almost entirely on Garland to create an attack for himself and his teammates last season, Cleveland was delighted with his opening look at life playing alongside Mitchell – even within the no-nonsense confines of the first half of Cleveland’s first pre-season game. , in large part due to how he relieved the pressure to do everything in an offensive manner.

“I think it was the divergence for me,” Garland said when asked what he noticed most about playing alongside Mitchell. “Just get out of Pick and Rolls, there are a lot of threats on the other side, and it’s a lot easier…You just pick your poison. You have to live with it.”

“It was fun out there, to be honest with you.”

While the Cleveland waits to bring Evan Mobley back onto the field after spraining his ankle over the weekend, the Cavaliers also have another decision to make between now and opening night: Who will start the small attack along with Garland, Mitchell, Mobley and Allen.

There are a few possible options, including Karis Levertwho started Wednesday’s match, religion valleywho hit 3 times off the bench, and Isaac Okorothe fifth overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. Bickerstaff said his final decision on who gets to be connected there will be determined by how he helps them unlock the best attributes of the four-stars around them.

“It’s really going to be about fitness, and that’s going to be what makes these four guys better,” he said. “Who helps them on the offensive end of the ground? Who helps them on the defensive end of the ground? Who can protect the players in certain situations defensively? How does that help in our confrontations? Offensively, how does it help us clear the ground? Those are all things we keep in mind.”

Leave a Comment