Last season, as a member of the Utah Jazz, Donovan Mitchell was eliminated from the playoffs by the Mavs in the first round.
In that series, where the Jazz lost in six, Mitchell struggled; he averaged 25. 5. points per contest in that series, but he shot only 40% from the field. After that loss, the Jazz felt they needed to do something with their roster. They traded three-time All-Star Rudy Gobert to the Timberwolves in July, and a couple of months later, they dealt Mitchell to the Cavs.
Mitchell, who spent five seasons in Utah and had a lot of success, is off to a great start in Cleveland and is averaging 29.2 points on 50% shooting, 4.0 rebounds, and 4.7 assists per contest.
Last night, Mitchell got some revenge. The three-time All-Star scored 27 of his game-high 34 points(13/20 FG, 6/9 3-pt FG) in the first half as the Cavs defeated the Mavs 105-90 at American Airlines Center.
“I think for me it’s just understanding that at the end of the day, they are kind of the reason I am in Cleveland,” Mitchell said about losing to the Mavericks in playoffs. “They did a great job in the playoff series, and I am thankful I am here, but it’s just recognition. I have played them a bunch of times in my career and played them six times in the playoffs with intense focus on different things. Obviously, different personnel here, so I am able to find gaps, and I was telling these guys how they are going to attack me and approach the second half.”
According to Mitchell, his extraordinary performance was not about trying to get revenge against the Mavs but about setting the tone after Cleveland’s tough loss to San Antonio.
“For me, it’s just trying to set the tone,” he said. “I think more of it was just trying to set the tone after the San Antonio loss, then coming in here worried about last year. Last year just made me a better player as a whole. You take those lessons, and you learn and implement them in the game.”
Only Mitchell knows if this game meant a little more to him, but in the end, the Cavs are happy that things did not work out for Mitchell against the Mavs and are delighted that he played at a high level on Wednesday night.