Donovan Mitchell’s optimistic tone heading into Game 5 in Cavs-Knicks series

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Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Following a disastrous weekend at Madison Square Garden, Donovan Mitchell is emphasizing the positive for the Cleveland Cavaliers as the team faces potential playoff elimination.

In the Cavaliers’ current predicament, the New York Knicks currently hold a commanding 3-1 advantage with the two teams set to play Game 5 on Wednesday night.

While Mitchell is focusing on an upbeat approach, many Cavaliers fans would likely be challenged to find bright spots in the Cavaliers’ two recent losses.

Last Friday night, Mitchell led the Cavaliers with 22 points. However, the team as a whole only scored 32 points in the first half and 79 for the game in the 99-79 loss.

Poor shooting was a major contributor to that defeat. The Cavaliers connected on just 38.8 percent (31-of-80) of the team’s field-goal attempts and just 21.2 percent on shots from beyond the arc.

On Sunday afternoon, the Cavaliers managed to play better but still ended up on the wrong side of a 102-93 decision. In that situation, Mitchell’s struggles were part of the problem throughout the game.

Mitchell finished with just 11 points and hit on just five of his 18 field-goal attempts, missing all four of his 3-point efforts. After the game, he offered a brutally honest assessment on that performance.

Exactly what it will take for the Cavaliers to pull off a stunning comeback is uncertain at this point. Yet, keeping Knicks guard Jalen Brunson in check is an absolute necessity.

In the first four games of the series, Brunson has been the leading scorer among both teams, averaging 24.3 points per game. He’s also delivering in other areas by averaging 5.0 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 2.3 steals per contest.

Pulling off three postseason wins in a row is a steep challenge, though any Cavaliers fan can point to the 2016 NBA Finals as evidence that it’s not insurmountable. In that particular case, the Cavaliers became the first NBA team ever to accomplish it in the finals and give the franchise its first title.

Yet, right now, the Cavaliers can’t be concerned about reaching the finals. To win the next three games, a total team effort is required, something that Mitchell is trying to get across to his teammates.

If the Cavs do win on Wednesday, Game 6 will again be at Madison Square Garden on Friday night. A potential Game 7 would be back in Cleveland on Sunday.

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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.