Former Cavs standout Kyrie Irving felt earlier on Monday that Mitchell was in the right frame of mind to have a huge night.
Kyrie Irving said he and Donovan Mitchell were playing Call of Duty this afternoon and that he knew Mitchell was “locked in.” Said he’s happy Mitchell broke his Cavs record, and that records are meant to be broken.
— Tim Bontemps (@TimBontemps) January 3, 2023
The Cavs traded for Mitchell over the summer, surrendering Collin Sexton, Lauri Markannen and first-round draft pick Ochai Agbaji, as well as a slew of draft picks. The deal immediately elevated them from playoff hopeful to dark horse championship contender.
Mitchell has given them not only an electrifying superstar but also someone who can elevate his game in big situations and single-handedly win games.
He imposed his will on Monday’s game late in the fourth quarter to help Cleveland overcome a deficit, and his putback near the final horn forced overtime, where he scored 13 points to seal the victory.
The victory tied the Cavs with the Milwaukee Bucks. However, Milwaukee holds the tiebreaker, which means the Cavs are currently in fourth place in the Eastern Conference standings.
Irving has had his share of big games over the years, but nothing he has done can compare to what Mitchell did against Chicago. In fact, it was the most points any NBA player has scored in a single game since Kobe Bryant’s 81-point outing in January of 2006.
With this win, the Cavs have put their recent three-game losing streak behind them. They will face the Phoenix Suns at home on Wednesday before starting a challenging five-game road trip on Friday, which includes contests against the Suns and Denver Nuggets.
Although the Cavs have a dominant home record, they’re just 7-10 away from Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse. It’s a mark they must improve significantly if they’re to have any real shot at contending for the NBA title this season.