71 Points for Donovan Mitchell
Issue 9, Volume 113
4.7 seconds were left on the game clock. The score was 130-127 in favor of the Chicago Bulls, with the Cleveland Cavaliers down by three. Donovan Mitchell stood at the free throw line, and he splashed his first free throw, making it a two-point game. Mitchell only had two options left: either make the free throw and look for a quick steal and a bucket to win the game, or purposefully miss the free throw in the hopes that a teammate would grab the rebound and put it in. As the ball left his fingertips, the crowd was in silence. It took what seemed like an eternity, eventually bouncing off the edge of the rim. Defying all odds, he caught his own rebound and, while falling out of bounds, layed it up and in. The game was tied at 130 a piece. The Cavs bench was stunned as they completed their masterful 21-point comeback, with Mitchell at the heart, having scored 58 points. The game was headed to overtime, and the Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse arena was ecstatic.
After the second overtime tip-off, the game was entirely in Mitchell’s hands. He scored 13 points in overtime, making him the highest scorer against the Bulls in Cavaliers history. In the first half, he only scored 16 points, but in the third and fourth quarter, he miraculously turned things around, scoring 42 points across those two quarters. The performance put Mitchell as the sixth highest scorer in any game, tied with Elgin Baylor and David Robinson.
If anything, this game also pointed to the strength of this season’s Cavaliers. With one of the youngest rosters in the league, they currently sit fifth in the Eastern Conference. In front, Mitchell is the man who they confided in to lead the young core to the latter stages of the NBA. Sending Collin Sexton, Lauri Markkanen, and several draft picks to Utah in exchange for Mitchell, the Cavs secured a certified all-star to pair up in the backcourt with Darius Garland. The best part about this trade is that Mitchell isn’t even in his prime yet. The direction of the team with Mitchell at the helm can go any way, but their collective potential and skill is terrifying. There are so many positives to the Cavs’ side, and you can’t help but admire the process which has unfolded as a result of the amazing work of both Coach J.B. Bickerstaff and general manager Koby Altman. During the offseason, they orchestrated the trade for Mitchell, which was one of the biggest in Cavaliers history. With Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen in the frontcourt, along with the likes of Caris LeVert, Kevin Love, Cedi Osman, and Lamar Stevens available to make an impact off the bench, the Cavaliers boast an extremely well-rounded, powerful lineup. The team is solid on both ends of the court, and in each game, someone different steps up if needed. Mitchell’s game against the Bulls was just a mere indication of how good the Cavs are this season, even if Mitchell is stealing the spotlight. Make sure to keep an eye on them in this year’s NBA playoffs, as the sky’s the limit for these Cavs.