Georges Niang shouted strong Donovan Mitchell message in Cavs locker room after star’s return

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Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

After watching Donovan Mitchell return from injury and help the Cleveland Cavaliers to a victory, teammate Georges Niang let loose with an enthusiastic reaction.

“With a towel around his waist and water dripping off his hair, Cavs veteran Georges Niang strolled toward his locker, peered over his shoulder at the throng of reporters and cameras orbiting Cavs star Donovan Mitchell and shouted loudly,” wrote Chris Fedor.

“The Donovan Mitchell Effect!”

Mitchell was back after missing seven games with a knee injury, and the Cavs, as would be expected, were much better for it. They defeated the New Orleans Pelicans 116-95 with their superstar contributing just 14 points and in many other important ways that did not show up in the box score.

The victory ended a two-game losing streak for Cleveland, and in the seven recent games without Mitchell, the Cavs were 3-4. That followed an outstanding run of 20-5 that included a stretch of 18 wins in 20 games.

As it stands now, with one month left in the NBA regular season, the Cavs are in second place in the Eastern Conference with a 42-24 record an in a tight race with the Milwaukee Bucks.

Overall, Cleveland has the sixth-best winning percentage in the entire league (tied with the Bucks). When Mitchell is in the lineup, they have the fourth-best winning percentage, according to

His impact was evident even before the game against the Pelicans as he reportedly was instructing his teammates during shootaround. The Cavs went out and made 20 3-pointers, shooting 44.4 percent from 3-point range and 51.0 percent overall.

“You could feel a difference, hear a difference,” Isaac Okoro told “He’s always talking to you about where you need to be on the court. Even at shootaround, he was explaining that to each player. It makes it easier on us to have a guy like that, who is that vocal. And when he is on the court, all five defenders on the other team have to see where he is at all times. Everybody has to pay attention to what he is doing and where he is at. He is such a threat, and he is so unselfish. He makes the right play over and over and over. Saw that tonight.”

Mitchell, however, was just 5-for-16 from the field and said he needs to regain confidence and stability in his knee. He is averaging 27.7 points, 5.4 rebounds and 6.1 assists per game this season.

“We did it in all facets,” Mitchell said. “Scoring. Passing. Getting stops. It was fun to watch and be a part of. It was beautiful. Continue to play like that throughout the rest of this road trip and end of the year.”

Before the recent setback, the 27-year-old was a fringe candidate for NBA MVP, but he has now missed too many games to reach the league’s new 65-game threshold for postseason awards. He has been able to play in 48 games so far, which means if he were to play in all of the team’s remaining games, he would max out at 64.

The Cavs as a team have bigger goals in mind as they try to win the NBA championship, starting with winning a playoff series for the first time since 2018. They definitely need Mitchell at full health to reach them, and having him back in the lineup is another encouraging step in that direction.

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Mike is a veteran journalist who has covered the NBA for almost three decades. One of his favorite sports memories is the Cavaliers-Nets playoff series from 1993.