Donovan Mitchell shines in first Cavalier win.
Mitchell was the best player on the floor again Friday night. He finished with a strong 32 points on 10 of 19 shooting which included canning 4 of his 6 triples. Mitchell also contributed 8 assists, 9 boards and a steal with 4 turnovers.
Kevin Love praises Donovan Mitchell for what he's brought to the @cavs in such a short time.— Bally Sports Cleveland (@BallySportsCLE) October 23, 2022
"To come to another team and step in the way that he has is really impressive. He's just a gamer."#LetEmKnow pic.twitter.com/9ZkOPCQ4UR
Mitchell’s energy got the Cavs out of a slow start. Cleveland fell behind by 8 early early in the first quarter before Mitchell dug them out of that hole by knocking down a 19 footer, a three and a 15 foot jumper in three straight possession. The Cavs used that momentum to grab the lead by the end of the quarter.
The three time all-star jumpstarted the second quarter by hitting a pullup three on the Cavs’ first possession and then following that up with a steal and then assisted Isaac Okoro on a breakaway dunk. The Cavs seemed to never look back after that sequence.
Mitchell has fit in well on the offensive end. The criticisms of him not working well with bigs like Rudy Gobert haven’t seemed to be an issue yet here (maybe that was just a Gobert problem). Mitchell connected on a nice lob to Jarrett Allen and has continued to show a willingness to get the big men involved with dump off passes like this one to Evan Mobley.
The Cavs finally have the primary scoring option they’ve desperately needed.
Basketball is easier when you make threes.
This game got out of hand like it did thanks to the Cavs three-point shooting. Cleveland knocked down 16 of their 27 attempts (59.3%) from beyond arc. Mitchell, Kevin Love, Caris LeVert and Cedi Osman combined to go 14 for 21 tonight beyond the arc. Conversely, the Bulls connected on just 7 of their 29 three point attempts.
The Cavs aren’t a good outside shooting team so performances like this are certainly the exception. That said, it was nice to see the Cavs have a nice shooting night after what the three-point shooting has looked like the past few seasons.
The backup bigs came to play.
Love showed why he was runner-up for Sixth Man of the Year last season. He provided 15 points on 5 of 9 shooting with 12 boards, 4 assists, 2 charges drawn and a block in 23 minutes of play.
Love showed a willingness to handle the ball more on the perimeter and initiate the offense on Friday night. Maybe this was because a shaky first few minutes from Raul Neto and the second unit guards, but it worked. Love knocked down a few unassisted off-the-dribble threes like the one here. Plays like this can feel like a back breaker. Defenses don’t expect Love to take and make shots like this.
Robin Lopez also provided some much needed offense after not seeing the floor in Wednesday’s loss to the Toronto Raptors. Lopez provided 12 points on 6 of 7 shooting in 16 minutes of action. The journeyman big found repeated success with his hook shoot much to the delight of Darius Garland who was keeping one eye on the game back home.
Lopez’s performance was enough to earn him the first Junkyard Dog chain of the season.
Up next: The Cavs are back in action Sunday night for the home opener against the Washington Wizards. Tip off is at 7 p.m. eastern.