Dribbles: Caris LeVert, Donovan Mitchell, Cavs Break The Bank in Topping Celtics

Random dribbles following the Cavaliers’ 132-123 overtime thriller of a road win against the Celtics …Donovan Mitchell Caris LeVert

1. When it comes to games like this, it really is hard to know where to begin. So much happened, and for the Cavs, most of it was really good.

2. Let’s start here: Donovan Mitchell erupted for 41 points. Caris LeVert erupted for 41 points. The Cavs (4-1) beat the defending Eastern Conference champions in their own building, the TD Bank Garden. 

3. So you might say Mitchell and and LeVert made multiple deposits and broke the bank. Or that the Celtics went bankrupt in trying to defend them. Yes, it’s corny — but go ahead and have some fun. The Cavs have won four straight and they’ve only played five games.

4. All this and the Cavs still didn’t even have Darius Garland, the All-Star point guard who continues to recover from a left eye injury. He’s played about a half so far.

5. Mitchell to reporters: “For us to have the mental fortitude this early — as a younger team that’s honestly trying to get to where the Celtics were last year and continue to build — that says a lot about our character. Without our elite guard, too.”

6. Mitchell and LeVert became only the second members of the Cavs to score 40-plus in the same game, joining LeBron James and Kyrie Irving, who did it together back in 2016.

7. It’s pretty safe to assume that if the Cavs dared to dream two players would score 40-plus in the same game this season, it would be Mitchell and Garland. But let’s not forget, LeVert scored 42 in his final game with the Pacers last season, just before the February trade to Cleveland. So yeah, he’s plenty capable.

8. It was LeVert who buried a 3-pointer with 1:10 left in regulation to give the Cavs a 113-112 lead in a back-and-forth evening. It was also LeVert who snagged an errant pass by Celtics star Jayson Tatum late in the OT, then got fouled and made the ensuing free throws. And it was LeVert who coolly followed with a 24-footer with 31 seconds to left to basically put it away.

9. In the end, LeVert had scored the Cavs’ final 11 points. Remember when we wondered who should start at small forward?

10. The Cavs opened the night with a 22-9 run. The Celtics (3-2) then outscored them by a whopping 66-40 count for the rest of the first half. Their lead was 15 before the Cavs turned up the defensive intensity, a result of being challenged by coach J.B. Bickerstaff at halftime.

11. Mitchell on the large deficit: “You can go one of two ways at that point. We continued to claw back.”

12. Bickerstaff on the win, via Cleveland.com’s Chris Fedor: “Very easily, after the way we played in the first half, we could’ve sat down and got ready for New York on Sunday. This group, to their credit, just wants to do for each other. Our group is genuinely all in.”

13. More Bickerstaff: “They aren’t going to let a little bump or adversity separate them from their ultimate goal. I thought their pure will was evident. They did not want to lose this game.”

14. Evan Mobley (19 points, 10 rebounds) also gave a vastly underrated showing. Same goes for Jarrett Allen (12 points, 11 boards). The two big men combined to finish 12-of-21 shooting, with Mobley swatting a couple shots.

15. Mobley told Tim Alcorn and Jim Chones of Cavs radio that he didn’t realize Mitchell and LeVert had each scored 40 until the final moments. Everyone was too locked in on doing their own part individually, focused on getting a team victory. And this was a big one as far as incredibly early road games go.

16. LeVert on the outcome, via Fedor: “My teammates have incredible belief in me. Makes, misses, bad games, good games. They’re telling me to keep going. My coaches, same thing. It was a huge game, especially on the road. It means a lot. We know who those guys are. They went to the Finals last year. We wanted to come in and give them our best shot.”

17. Mitchell was equally incredible, of course. He has scored 30 or more in four of the five games. All have been remarkable. None topped this.

18. As Bickerstaff said, “Any time you get 82 from your backcourt, you had a hell of a night.”

19. Next up: The Knicks at home on Sunday, as the coach mentioned earlier. We don’t know yet whether Garland will play. But it could happen.

20. Bickerstaff on Garland: “He’s improving. He’s doing more and more on the floor. But, at this point it’s really a safety issue and not putting him in a compromising situation.”

21. Tatum and Jaylen Brown each scored 32 for the Celtics. They again have the look of contenders. They face the Cavs again, in Cleveland, on Wednesday.

22. You can be sure the Celtics will be extra determined for that one. But based on this night, we would be happy to watch them play six or seven more times, like, in May. Who knows? Maybe it will happen.

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