Struggling through a tough road trip, Donovan Mitchell took a day away from basketball, and it paid off with a standout performance in the Cleveland Cavaliers’ 109-95 win at the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday.
“Play like myself,” Mitchell said of his approach Wednesday night. “I didn’t touch a basketball yesterday. Kinda gave myself a mental day. Watched movies all day. Sometimes it’s better to just get away. I wasn’t playing up to my standard. It always starts with me. I hold myself to that standard and I know these guys do too.”
Mitchell scored 34 points and added six rebounds and four assists to help the Cavs close the Western trek with a split of the four games. He had not scored more than 22 points in any of the three previous games.
After defeating the Trail Blazers, they take a 5-6 record home with them. The Cavs have yet to win consecutive games and lost three in a row earlier this season. The victory on Wednesday was a good response after a discouraging loss to the Kings on Monday.
Mitchell has not scored fewer than 20 points in any of the 10 games he has played and previously reached a season high of 43 points with another game of 38 points. Both of those outings came in losses, however.
Cleveland entered the season with high hopes after a 51-win season and playoff berth during the 2022-23 campaign, plus a successful offseason in which it added Max Strus and Georges Niang.
But injuries to Jarrett Allen, Darius Garland and Isaac Okoro, among others, have contributed to the slow start, and the team may be having a tough time developing winning chemistry so far. Kevin Garnett said recently that he thinks “something is missing” for the Cavs despite how good they might look on paper.
Cleveland plays seven of its next eight games at home, starting with a matchup against the Detroit Pistons on Friday. The only road game during that stretch is at the nearby Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday.
It seems like a very good opportunity for the Cavaliers to get back on track and put together a winning streak that could push them into a better place in the NBA standings.