Donovan Mitchell is paying his lone visit to the Jazz of the season, and fresh off winning Eastern Conference Player of the Week honors, no less.
What a way to return to the place where you made your name.
Still, the Cavaliers’ star guard indicated he’s not really sure what to expect.
“I don’t know what the response will be, I hope it’s cheers,” he told reporters. “There were a lot of positives despite not winning a championship. That’s not easy. Only one team does it. We had five cracks at it and we missed.”
Mitchell, 26, has had quite the run since the trade to Cleveland. He gave the performance of a lifetime by scoring 71 points in that win over the Bulls. He averaged 37.7 points, 7.3 assists and 5.3 rebounds over the past week, as the Cavs (26-15) have won four of five.
And while he made the All-Star team three times in Utah, his 28.8 points with the Cavs are a career-best.
Meanwhile, the Jazz (20-23) are quite a bit different. After trading Mitchell, center Rudy Gobert (Timberwolves,) and forwards Royce O’Neale (Nets) and Bojan Bogdanovic (Pistons), they underwent a complete roster makeover. Even coach Will Hardy is new.
Basically, these aren’t Mitchell’s Jazz. These days, the face of the team is forward Lauri Markkanen, part of the Mitchell trade who is having a career year himself.
But on this night, it will be Mitchell who is all the talk — and rightfully so. Jazz fans will surely recognize him, but he is a bit different than the last time he played in Utah. He’s even better.
- Former Cavs guard Collin Sexton (hamstring) remains out, meaning he will have missed both games against his former team. The Cavs cruised to a 122-99 win over the Jazz in Cleveland on Dec. 19.
- Darius Garland is one of two NBA players averaging 20.0+ points, 7.0+ assists and shooting .390+ on 3-pointers. Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton is the other.
- Or how about Isaac Okoro? His four threes in Sunday’s road win over the Suns tied a career-high. Some have suggested this is a make-or-break season for Okoro in Cleveland, and he’s played better lately.
- Finally, in case you missed it, I have more on the Cavs’ interest in Mavericks guard/forward Tim Hardaway Jr. right here at this link.
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