The Cleveland Cavaliers and New York Knicks are just hours away from getting their first-round series underway in the 2023 NBA Playoffs, and it looks like Knicks wing Josh Hart is ready to battle against his good friend Donovan Mitchell.
The two had a funny exchange on social media ahead of the series. It all started when Mitchell shared a post to his Instagram page to ring in the beginning of this season’s playoffs.
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It was in the comment section that things got interesting.
Josh Hart on Donovan Mitchell’s Instagram 😂
(They are friends) pic.twitter.com/gNuO8s2EWM
— KnicksMuse (@KnicksMuse) April 14, 2023
Though the now-deleted message may have been needlessly aggressive, the two players have been friends for years.
“It’s exciting because that’s someone I’ve known for the last seven years,” Hart said this week. “Someone who I’ve watched grow in the league. Someone who has a great personality, a high character kid. So it’ll be fun. We play video games together. We talk trash, hang out.”
He added that playing against someone like Mitchell is what the game is all about.
“When you’re playing against the Donovan Mitchells in the league, someone who is a good scorer on all three levels, someone who is shooting almost 50 percent from the field, 38 from 3, high-80s from the [free-throw] line, he’s getting it done from everywhere on the court,” he said. “So definitely getting excited for someone like that.”
Clearly, Hart holds a ton of respect for Mitchell even if the Instagram comment didn’t indicate it, and there’s no mystery why.
Mitchell is considered to be among the top shooting guards in the NBA, and his 2022-23 campaign has arguably been the best so far of his career.
In the 2022-23 regular season, he put up 28.3 points, 4.4 assists and 4.3 rebounds per game. He shot 48.4 percent from the field along the way, the highest clip of his career.
All in all, the first-round series between the Knicks and Cavs is sure to be a good one. Some expect it to be one of the more competitive matchups in the first round across both conferences.
With Game 1 set to get underway on Saturday evening, fans will soon find out if those expectations hold up. The Cavs are trying to win their first playoff series since 2018.