Donovan Mitchell has been here before. He’s faced a 3-1 NBA playoff deficit and is dealing with another one as a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Mitchell and the Cavs are a -5.5 point favorite with a total of 202.5 for Game 5 at Rocket Mortage FieldHouse in Cleveland.
Cleveland Cavaliers (52-34, 1-3, #4 seed)
The fans are coming down hard on “Spider” Mitchell following his 11-point effort in Sunday’s 102-93 loss in Game 4:
There’s a reason Donovan Mitchell is the best SG in the NBA. pic.twitter.com/BG1MstxKjf
— andrew leezus (@AndrewLeezus) April 23, 2023
Donovan Mitchell pic.twitter.com/g4lcqiHe5D
— zeb (@zebulunalford_) April 23, 2023
Donovan Mitchell right now pic.twitter.com/6IMtySw2L1
— roukshiesty (@BeenHim10) April 23, 2023
Down 3-1 in the best-of-seven series after dropping two games Madison Square Garden last weekend, the Cavaliers face the possibility of seeing their season end sooner rather later as they had hoped.
No stranger to playoff deficits
While playing in the NBA’s 2020 postseason “bubble” in Florida, Mitchell was with Utah when the Jazz blew a 3-1 lead to the Denver Nuggets.
In league history, only 13 of 271 teams have overcome a 3-1 deficit to win a series, and Cleveland is the only one to do it in the NBA Finals, winning it all in 2016.
Cavs coach J.B. Bickerstaff has also been part of a 3-1 comeback. When he and assistant Greg Buckner were on Kevin McHale’s staff in Houston, the Rockets, despite losing Games 3 and 4 by a combined 58 points, rallied to shock the Los Angeles Clippers in the 2015 Western Conference semifinals.
New York Knicks (50-36, 3-1)
Jalen Brunson poured in 29 points and RJ Barrett supplied 26 as the Knicks gained control of the series efeated the Cleveland Cavaliers 102-93 on Sunday afternoon in Game 4 of a first-round Eastern Conference playoff series.
Jalen Brunson calls game!#Cavs vs #Knicks #nba #playoffs pic.twitter.com/xGYmhtNSsI
— Elvin (@Elvin76431093) April 23, 2023
The Knicks, have been the tougher, more poised team and are one win from advancing to the second round for the first time since 2013 – and only the second time in 20 years.
A chance for redemption
With back-to-back losses in the Big Apple, the Cavs have been pushed to the brink of elimination. And Mitchell is receiving most of the blame.
With more than 40 playoff appearances in his career — Mitchell was supposed to be the superstar/veteran presence to lead the Cavs to a post-LeBron playoff existence. However, Sunday at MSG, Mitchell fell woefully short, delivering his worst performance of the season. He was 0-4 from downtown and had more turnovers than assists in 42 minutes of brutal basketball.
Donovan Mitchell in the Cavs’ Game 4 loss:
— 11 PTS
— 5-18 FG
— 0-4 3PT
— More turnovers (6) than assists (5)
He shouldered blame for the defeat afterward.
(h/t @ChrisFedor) pic.twitter.com/cV9lngYjNZ
— Ball Don’t Lie (@Balldontlie) April 24, 2023
Without Mitchell’s usual offensive exploits, the Cavs once again struggled to generate enough at that end of the floor. It marked the third time in four games that Cleveland was held below the 100-point mark.
The bottom line is Mitchell needs to a big bounce back game–as much for himself as for the Cavaliers.