Game 7 is usually where we get to see what players and teams are really made of. The biggest stage and high stakes bring on a lot of pressure and players and teams either rise to the occasion or fold under the bright lights. And for a moment, it seemed Donovan Mitchell and the Cleveland Cavaliers would be on the wrong end of Game 7.

Early on, the Orlando Magic seemed to be running away with the game after racing to a 49-31 lead with 4:17 left in the second quarter. Through two quarters, nine Magic players would score points, with Banchero leading all scorers with 24 points, eight rebounds, two assists, two steals, and a block by halftime.

On the other side, Donovan Mitchell had 15 points and three assists, but much of his offense came from the free throw line. Orlando was clearly being physical with him, as Mitchell was frequently on the floor, earning himself a trip to the free throw line or looking to get the sympathy of the officials.

Once the second half began, it was obvious that Mitchell had to take it upon himself to bring the Cavs back from the jaws of defeat.

It wasn’t pretty but Mitchell scrapped his way for points and got some timely baskets from Caris LeVert and Max Strus. Through their efforts, Cleveland brought the lead down bit by bit and took a 65-64 lead with 3:39 left in the third quarter that eventually became a 76-68 lead heading into the fourth quarter.


The Magic continued to threaten in the fourth quarter, but by then, the Cavs got it going on offense, while the defensive chops of Evan Mobley and Isaac Okoro prevented Orlando from replicating their offensive prowess over Cleveland from earlier in the game. Mitchell had already worn them down by then, and Cavs head coach JB Bickerstaff made the key strategic decisions that finally put the Magic away.

Cleveland’s character was on full display and Mitchell was at the forefront of it. He was solid through the first two games of the first round, but faltered when the series shifted to Orlando. With the series tied, the only way for Mitchell was forward and he proceeded to average 39.0 points in the last three games, pulling off performances that were reminiscent of Allen Iverson’s postseason exploits.

We all know Mitchell is a star, but he continues to play with a chip on his shoulder. Him never missing the postseason is proof of that mindset and the high standard with which he holds himself, and now that he has advanced to the second round for the first time since 2021, his story will continue to be written. 

With the Cleveland Cavaliers set to face the Boston Celtics in a few days, it will require another herculean defensive effort coupled with a potent offensive game plan. Mitchell may need to channel his inner Iverson against the NBA’s best team for much of the regular season but there shouldn’t be any doubts about that, however, since Game 7 was the test that proved the 27-year old’s mettle.