East Notes: Cavs, Donovan Mitchell, Hawks, Nets


The Cavs have lost 11 of 17 but managed to snap a three-game skid by topping the Hornets on Wednesday, and now own the No. 4 seed in the NBA Eastern Conference.Donovan Mitchell, Cleveland Cavaliers, NBA Rumors

Star guard Donovan Mitchell returned after missing another game and led the way with 29 points.

“It was time to get going and I felt really good tonight,” Mitchell told reporters. “The biggest cure for my knee is rest, but we don’t have time for that, so we have to find ways to adapt. I wanted to set the tone here.”

The Cavs will clinch a top-six seed in the East with a win over the Pacers on Friday or over the Hornets on Sunday. The same will be true if the 76ers lose either of their final two games.

Obviously, the goal is a top-four seed, and two wins in the final two games are highly likely to secure at least No. 4.

“It’s a great opportunity to control our destiny with all of these games at home,” coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “If we take care of what’s in front of us, we’ll be fine.”

Added point guard Darius Garland of the final stretch: “We really need all three of these games, but we’ll take it one at a time. This group loves each other, so no matter what happens, this group has each other’s backs. That’s the easiest part.”


The Hawks will be without forward Jalen Johnson and center Onyeka Okongwu in the Eastern Conference play-in tournament because of injuries, the team announced.

Atlanta will face Chicago in the play-in game between the Nos. 9 and 10 seeds.

Johnson has had a fine season with averages of 16.0 points and 8.7 rebounds, but is expected to miss at least three weeks after suffering a sprained right ankle in Tuesday’s double-overtime loss to the Heat. 

Meanwhile, Okongwu will miss at least four weeks after a procedure to address inflammation in his left big toe. He is averaging 10.2 points and 6.8 rebounds.

Hawks All-Star guard Trae Young just returned from finger/hand surgery on Wednesday, but the Hawks still lost by a 115-114 count to the lowly Hornets at home.

  • The Hawks visit the Timberwolves on Friday before closing the regular season on Sunday with a road game against the Pacers.


The Nets are merely playing out the stretch, having failed to qualify for the postseason, but are undoubtedly holding auditions for next year. 

And someone who again made a strong case to be a part of the future was rookie forward/center Noah Clowney, who finished Wednesday’s win over the Raptors with 10 points and a whopping seven blocks.

Clowney was the No. 21 pick in the 2023 NBA Draft and has spent most of the year with the Long Island Nets of the G League. But again, he sure made his presence felt vs. Toronto.

“They kept trying to lay the ball up and I kept blocking it,” he said.

  • Clowney, 19, became the 12th teenager in NBA history to block seven or more shots. seven blocks are the second-most for a rookie in franchise history. Mike Gminski set the record with eight at the Bucks on Jan. 6, 1981, and Sean Williams compiled the same against the Kings on Dec. 18, 2007.

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