“I feel… great. I just ran into the stanchions and I’ll be fine for when we play Utah.”#Cavs guard Donovan Mitchell on his shoulder postgame.
— Evan Dammarell (@AmNotEvan) December 19, 2023
The Cavaliers star will be able to take on his former team after it looked like he may have injured his shoulder in the waning seconds of an overtime win against the Houston Rockets on Monday.
With Cleveland up by six points and trying to run out the clock, Houston’s Tari Eason came up with a steal and headed the other way. Mitchell got back on defense, and after deflecting the ball and trying to save it back over the baseline, he hit the basket stanchion hard with his right shoulder with 19.4 seconds remaining.
He stayed in the game, though he was holding his shoulder and looked to be in pain. Mitchell received some quick attention from trainers on the bench during a timeout and briefly was removed from the game. He was reinserted to play the final seconds.
He scored 37 points in the 135-130 victory, a performance that was wholly necessary with the Cavs missing both Darius Garland and Evan Mobley after getting disheartening injury news about the two stars last week.
Garland and Mobley are each expected to be out multiple weeks. Garland fractured his jaw last Thursday and will be looked at again in about four weeks. Mobley, who last played Dec. 6, will be out of action for six to eight weeks.
The Cavs have been able to win two in a row since losing Garland, including a win over the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday when Jarrett Allen scored 25 points and Mitchell had 13 assists.
Those two players will have to carry the Cavs while they try to remain in playoff contention. They will take a 15-12 record into the game against the Jazz, who traded Mitchell prior to the 2022-23 season.
The 27-year-old, whose future with Cleveland remains a lingering open question, averaged 34.5 points per game in two meetings against his former team last season. The Cavs are likely counting on a similar performance to help them through these challenging times.