Dribbles: Donovan Mitchell Hits 50, But Cavaliers Basketball MIA, With Just One Game To Find It

Random dribbles following the Cavaliers’ disappointing 103-96 road loss to the Orlando Magic in Game 6 of their first-round playoff matchup on Friday. …Donovan Mitchell, Cleveland Cavaliers, NBA

1. Donovan Mitchell was amazing and seemed to get better as the moments got bigger. But man, he was all alone out there in the fourth quarter, at winning time.

2. Mitchell finished with 50 points on 22-of-36 shooting. He was tireless, unstoppable, remarkable. But when it came time for someone else to take or make a shot … the Cavs got nothing. Zilch.

3. Mitchell scored all 18 of the Cavs’ points in the fourth. It’s true, as the last basket by someone other than Mitchell came with 2:37 left in the third.

4. That’s not Cavaliers Basketball, as Coach J.B. Bickerstaff likes to say. But it is how to blow a nine-point lead, and that’s what the Cavs did before losing.

5. Now, it’s down to one game … Sunday … in Cleveland. Game 7. How did it get to this point? Win, or it’s season over, and man, what a blow that would be.

6. Now, let me say I like the Cavs’ chances at home. But this run in the playoffs so far feels every bit as disappointing as last season. The Cavs have looked a little bit soft at times and out of rhythm offensively way too often.

7. The Cavs were supposed to be the more confident, dominant team. They’ve been here before. Orlando has not. And yet you have (barely) three guys score in double figures in a closeout game? That’s not the Cavaliers Basketball we saw during the regular season, either.

8. Darius Garland gave a fine effort with 21 points on 10-of-17 shooting. You have to give Garland credit for attacking. He’s been much better in the past two games. Max Strus added 10, and while you’d hope he could hit a few more buckets, his contributions come everywhere and can’t be measured in stats.

9. Everyone else? Uh … well. Man.

10. Actually, there is no questioning the Cavs’ effort — and I do mean every last guy out there. But hey fellas, YOU NEED TO SCORE.

11. Evan Mobley took five shots and finished with three points. That can’t happen. Granted, some of it was a result of Mitchell and Garland feeling it and taking most of the shots. Some of it had to do with Mobley likely being tired and having to work his tail off defensively.

12. The Magic started four 6-foot-10 guys. Mobley (7-foot) was the only starter for the Cavs taller than 6-8. So yeah, he had his hands full near the rim, especially since Jarrett Allen missed his second straight game with bruised ribs. And give Mobley credit for swatting five shots.

13. But offensively, he either didn’t touch the ball or didn’t attack when he did. Other than about an eight-minute stretch in the third quarter, nothing for the Cavs was fluid or resembled winning basketball. It was get the ball to Mitchell and watch him go.

14. That works sometimes. But not usually.

15. Other than Mitchell, Garland, and Strus, no one scored more than four points. Seriously. That means the Cavs got like 90 percent of their scoring from two guys. And 50 percent of it from Mitchell.

16. Not to pick on Caris LeVert, but Bickerstaff and the Cavs are relying on him to be a spark — and he’s not delivered. He averaged 14.0 points on 42 percent shooting in the regular season. He’s at 7.2 points and 33 percent in the playoffs. Bickerstaff pulled LeVert after seven measly minutes and one point. 

17. LeVert was probably the Cavs’ best player in last year’s playoffs. So his inability to get anything going now has really hurt the team. They need him to make an impact off the bench. That is likely one reason they struggle to hit 100 points every game.

18. Nor does Allen’s absence help. Against a huge team such as the Magic, being short a starting center is a killer. Allen had the best series of anyone on the Cavs before the injury. It’s unknown if he’ll be able to play Sunday. Bruised ribs are no joke. It hurts to even just reach for a rebound.

19. Meanwhile, Orlando seems confident and can at times look like a well-oiled machine — or the opposite of the first two games. Paolo Banchero again led the Magic with 27 points and eight rebounds. Franz Wagner scored 26. Jalen Suggs came through with 22.

20. Both teams have won each of their home games in this series, so again, I like the Cavs’ chances on Sunday. Granted, I don’t say that with loads of confidence — simply because we still don’t know what we’re gonna get from this team in each quarter, perhaps each minute.

21. The Cavaliers were expected to win this series fairly easily. The Magic are partially responsible for why the Cavaliers have not. But the Cavs themselves are also at least partially to blame. Now, they have one more game to fix things — and keep this once-promising season from becoming nothing more than one big flop.

Looking for the latest NBA Insider News & Rumors?

Be sure to follow Hoops Wire on TWITTER and FACEBOOK for breaking NBA News and Rumors for all 30 teams!


  1. Hey Sam…..I read LeVert’s knee was reaggravated a couple games ago and that’s why his minutes are limited. Have you heard anything along those lines? How about Mobley’s ankle?

Leave a Reply