NBA insider Brian Windhorst said that the Cleveland Cavaliers were blunt about their plans to keep star guard Donovan Mitchell after the injury bug hit the team.
“Initially, when the injuries happened, the Cavs sent out the message when the calls came in, ‘We’re not trading him,'” Windhorst said. “And that’s what I expected them to say. And quite frankly, it’s the easy answer because you don’t have to feel pressure in December.”
Windhorst reported earlier this month that NBA executives were blowing up his phone regarding Mitchell in light of Evan Mobley and Darius Garland suffering injuries. Mobley is dealing with a knee injury, while Garland is dealing with a fractured jaw.
But after a slow and injury-filled start to the season, the Cavaliers have responded by playing winning basketball over the past few weeks.
Cleveland has won two games in a row and six out of its last 10, which has allowed the team to climb to the No. 6 seed in the Eastern Conference at 18-13. The Cavaliers are now just half a game back of the Orlando Magic for the No. 5 seed in the conference and one game back of the Miami Heat for the No. 4 seed.
The Cavaliers won their most recent game against the Dallas Mavericks on Dec. 27 by three points. Cleveland outscored the Mavericks by 11 points in the final frame after trailing by eight points at the end of the third quarter.
It was Cavaliers big man Jarrett Allen who led the team in scoring against Dallas. He dropped 24 points to go along with 23 rebounds, six assists and two steals while shooting 9-of-17 from the field in what was one of his top performances of the 2023-24 regular season to this point.
Conversely, Luka Doncic scored a game-high 39 points for the Mavericks while shooting 14-of-29 from the field and 8-of-10 from the free-throw line.
Cleveland will take on Damian Lillard, Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks at home on Friday with the goal of prolonging their winning streak. The Bucks are currently the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference with a 23-8 record.
The Cavaliers didn’t panic and trade Mitchell when the injury bug hit them hard early on in the season, and now their patience is paying off, as the team is now firmly in the Eastern Conference playoff picture.