Donovan Mitchell details crucial quality Cavs exhibited in thrilling overtime win vs. Celtics

4 Min Read
David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Following the Cleveland Cavaliers’ overtime win over the Boston Celtics on Friday night, Cavs guard Donovan Mitchell pointed to the mental strength the team had to have in order to pick up the victory.

The Cavaliers managed to defeat the Celtics for the 132-123 win, with Mitchell noting that the feat came with the pressure of playing a quality team on the road.

“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,” Mitchell said.

Last season, the Celtics managed to win the Eastern Conference title and compete in the NBA Finals for the first time in 12 seasons. Even though they lost in six games to the Golden State Warriors, the Celtics remain one of the top teams in the Cavaliers’ path.

For the Cavaliers, their most recent trip to the finals wasn’t that long ago. That took place in 2018, during the final season of the second LeBron James era.

In the years following that appearance, the rebuilding Cavaliers endured some severe struggles to simply try to get back to respectability.

The Cavaliers appeared to be headed to the playoffs last season until injuries ended up derailing those hopes. They ended the campaign with two losses in the play-in tournament.

During the offseason, the Cavaliers took steps to bolster their roster by adding Mitchell to their developing lineup in a blockbuster deal with the Utah Jazz. That addition aided Friday’s win, with Mitchell and Caris LeVert each scoring 41 points in the game.

Mitchell noting the absence of the Cavaliers’ elite guard was in reference to Darius Garland. The fourth-year guard has remained out of the lineup since suffering an eye injury in the season-opening loss on Oct. 19.

Last season, Garland blossomed into the player the Cavs were expecting when they drafted him in 2019. Garland’s performance last season resulted in his first selection to the NBA All-Star Game, something that very well could become a regular occurrence.

Even though Garland has been unable to play because of his injury, the Cavaliers have been able to overcome his absence and win four straight games. Two of those victories have come in overtime, a positive sign about the team’s fortitude in clutch situations.

Garland’s return is still uncertain, though it does not seem far away. The Cavaliers are set to play two consecutive home games, beginning with a Sunday night clash against the New York Knicks and a Wednesday night rematch against the Celtics.

Even if Garland remains unavailable for those contests, the Cavaliers have already shown that they have the mental toughness to meet challenging situations.

Share This Article
Brad Sullivan is a lead writer for Cavaliers Nation. He has spent much of life in the Cleveland, Ohio area, and has remained a Cavalier fan from their 1970 beginnings through the return of LeBron James. While that fandom was sorely tested during the Reign of Error known simply by one word, Stepien, that overall historical perspective will be part of his writing for Cavaliers Nation in the months ahead.