Despite the absence of the injured Darius Garland, Donovan Mitchell’s first few games with the Cleveland Cavaliers have gone just as expected.

Cleveland’s key offseason acquisition slid into Garland’s point guard slot after he injured his eye in their season opener and has led them to an impressive 4-1 start. Mitchell’s finest performance so far with his new team came in their most recent win, an impressive 132-123 overtime triumph over the defending Eastern Conference champion Boston Celtics.

The three-time NBA All-Star had 41 points, five three-pointers, four rebounds, three assists, and one steal–though he did have seven turnovers–highlighted by a powerful third quarter dunk over Boston’s back-up center Luke Kornet.

Mitchell has always produced stellar results as a primary ball handler, like when he put on a stunning display for the Utah Jazz two years ago in the NBA Bubble, and the trend has carried on with the Cavaliers.

Caris LeVert, who has thrived playing alongside Mitchell in the Cleveland backcourt, had 41 points as well in their statement victory. LeVert also had six threes, four rebounds, seven assists, three steals, and just two turnovers. 

Their game with the Celtics was tied, 121-all, midway through overtime before LeVert took over and scored the last 11 points for the Cavaliers to secure the win.


It was quite an impressive showing from Cleveland’s current starting backcourt and it will be interesting to see how they re-integrate Garland to the team given how well they have played in his absence.

Recent reports indicate that the one-time NBA All-Star’s eye is not yet sufficiently healed and an even longer absence may cause fit problems down the road, especially if the Cavaliers extend their winning ways.

In addition, sophomore forward Evan Mobley has begun to find his groove after missing parts of training camp and the preseason with a sprained ankle. Mobley got off to a muted start offensively, but has now had two consecutive solid outings against the Orlando Magic and Boston.

The runner-up in the 2022 NBA Rookie of the Year race had 20 points on 12 shots along with three rebounds, three assists, a steal, and a block in their 103-92 win over Orlando and followed it up with 19 points on nine-of-15 shooting, 10 rebounds, three assists, a steal, and two blocks versus Boston.

The frontcourt “twin tower” pairing that Mobley and the ever-solid Jarrett Allen form remains the defensive backbone of their team and they have continued to grow more cohesive in their second campaign together.

While Mitchell and Garland are the more exciting players, the 7’0 Mobley remains the most important piece for their future and how much of his limitless potential he can tap may very well determine the ultimate ceiling of this team.

It is not far-fetched to believe that this iteration of Cleveland could go on the team’s first deep playoff run without LeBron James as early as this season and eventually win the franchise’s second NBA title.

With how things have been going early in the season, it is beginning to look like Mitchell is truly the missing piece that the Cavaliers’ front office envisioned and, for the first time since James’ departure in 2018, something special is brewing in Cleveland.