Cavs insider says Donovan Mitchell is ‘physically beat up and emotionally drained’

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The Cleveland Cavaliers squandered an opportunity to reach the second round of the playoffs for the first time since 2018, unfortunately wasting Donovan Mitchell’s 50-point effort on Friday.

Down by five heading into the fourth period in Game 6, the Orlando Magic outscored Cleveland 30-18 in the final frame to rally for a 103-96 victory. Mitchell did all he could for his squad to avoid a seventh matchup, scoring all of the Cavs’ points in the decisive quarter. Evidently, it wasn’t enough.

Cleveland will have to do better on Sunday if it wants to advance past the Magic. Unfortunately, Mitchell may not be in best shape, according to team insider Terry Pluto.

“Mitchell is physically beat up and emotionally drained,” wrote Pluto. “I’ve always liked him as a player. My respect for him has grown during the ups and downs of this series. He’s a polite, tough-minded, no-excuse guy. What he has left, Mitchell will give it to the Cavs and their fans in Game 7.”

It’s unclear how the five-time All-Star really feels. However, it is worth noting that he seems confident heading into Game 7, as he recently expressed his excitement to play in front of the Cavs faithful in such a high-stakes contest.

Still, the Cavs might rue giving away Game 6 in heartbreaking fashion. Coach J.B. Bickerstaff appeared to attribute the loss to the game’s officiating, pointing out the huge free-throw discrepancy between his team and the Magic. In the fourth quarter alone, Orlando went to the free-throw line 15 times, and Cleveland had just two such trips.

However, the Cavs shot just 7-for-19 from the field, with Mitchell accounting for 13 of those attempts, and committed seven turnovers in the final quarter, which surely impacted their chances of getting a road win.

The good news for Cleveland is that it has won its first three home games in the series. On the other hand, Mitchell doesn’t exactly have an inspiring Game 7 track record. In his first and only Game 7 appearance so far (2020 vs. the Denver Nuggets), he put up 22 points on a 40.9 percent shooting clip and gave up the ball nine times.

It remains to be seen what version of Mitchell fans will see on Sunday. Hopefully, it’s closer to the guy who registered the third 50-point game in his playoff career. In addition, his teammates have to show up and provide him with the necessary help.

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Orel is a freelance writer who is passionate about the NBA. He has followed the league since the late '90s and found increased interest in it in 2003 – when an 18-year-old prodigy from Akron, Ohio took the league by storm.