Jimmy Watkins: The Cavs’ argument for Donovan Mitchell to stay needs to be more convincing than it was in their Game 1 defeat to the Celtics.

Ohio’s Cleveland It sounds a lot like saying the weather was good on Wednesday afternoon when it comes to the Celtics’ inability to guard Donovan Mitchell on Tuesday. Of course. Have you ventured outside yet? Have you seen Mitchell play?


In Game 1, he scored 33 points and seemed unstoppable against great perimeter players like Derrick White and Jrue Holiday. In the second round, he appeared prepared to push Boston into a longer series than it desires.

However, following Cleveland’s 120-95 defeat at T.D. Garden, his best plays appear more like a hoops mixtape than a real danger to the Celtics. Furthermore, those optics may be a far larger difficulty for Cleveland than the Jaylen Brown-sized one they faced in Game 1.

Forget about Mitchell’s ailing knee; in Cleveland’s last three playoff games, he has appeared healthy enough to average 40.7 points. Right now, Cleveland’s superstar most needs assistance.


He’s scored 122 points since Game 6 in Orlando, which is just three less than his fellow starters’ total of 12.5 points in the same time frame. In the seven non-garbage time minutes of Tuesday’s Game 1, Cleveland managed only six points without Mitchell in the game. And those patterns need to shift quickly if the Cavs are to stay competitive in this series and, consequently, be taken into consideration for Mitchell’s future.

With a player option that expires after the 2024–2025 season, Cleveland had a real chance to keep Mitchell long term going into this season. No, the Cavs were never his first choice when he was leaving Utah. No, Cleveland doesn’t have the same natural advantages as places like Miami, Los Angeles, New York, or Los Angeles. However, the Cavs may outperform those elements with a pitch that centers on his biggest concern: winning.


This offseason, Mitchell responded to inquiries about his contract with remarks about winning championships, and I think those are real remarks. The only team fighting for Mitchell’s services that has the opportunity to present their case in person is the Cavaliers. Contender status is the finest benefit any team can provide if Mitchell becomes available.

It started with Cleveland’s Round 1 win over the Magic, which represented progress for a franchise that looked unprepared for the playoff stage last spring. But Mitchell cares more about the Boston slide of the Cavs’ presentation. If Cleveland can beat the top-seeded Celtics in this series, that bullet point trumps any theoretical selling point that big market teams can push. From movie opportunities to marketing dollars, there is no substitute for beating the Eastern Conference’s best team. If Cleveland can’t beat Boston, however, then context is key. How the Cavs lose matters. And if they lose like they did in Game 1, with Mitchell looking like a one-man offense, movies and marketing dollars hold more weight. Hypothetical teammates look more enticing than the ones who can’t help Mitchell beat Boston. And Cleveland loses ground in the race to earn Mitchell’s signature.

Darius Garland, who has scored fewer than 15 points in five of the eight playoff games this postseason, is the penholder ahead of Game 2. It’s Evan Mobley’s to lose; while his offensive growth is worthy of patience in a vacuum, in a scenario where Mitchell has Cleveland under pressure, faster outcomes are required. And it belongs to players like Caris LeVert, Max Strus, and Isaac Okoro, who in 90 combined minutes during Game 1 scored 20 points on 8 of 25 shots.


Is Mitchell willing to sign a longer term? Continue to make open 3-pointers. Make him realize how much effort Mobley has been putting in the past few summers to improve his jump jumper and postgame. Show him the distinction between Garland, who finished with 14 points on 15 attempts.

Put another way, force Mitchell to pick up the pen. Because their best player’s thoughts can stray if the Cavaliers give him the freedom to choose. Los Angeles and Miami always have pleasant weather. In New York, the spotlight is broader. Additionally, there are many lovely NBA cities where you may film bare highlight reels.

Mitchell’s teammates must support him in winning if Cleveland hopes to see him play, which is akin to stating that the weather was pleasant on Wednesday afternoon.

Written by schooleiwa

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