Cavaliers Notes: Mitchell, Extension, Thompson, Allen

Donovan Mitchell backed up his claim that his troublesome left knee is now “100 percent” as he led the Cavaliers past Orlando in their series opener this afternoon, writes Kendra Andrews of ESPN. Mitchell didn’t seem slowed by the knee at all as he carved up the Magic’s defense for 30 points while shooting 11-of-21 from the field and 3-of-8 from three-point range.

“It’s all about setting a tone,” Mitchell said. “This is exciting and I love it and it’s great but in the same token, this game is only one game. This is trying to set that tone, but now we have to do it again and again.”

Although his teams have enjoyed limited playoff success, Mitchell has established himself as one of the premier postseason scorers of the era, Andrews notes. Today marked his fifth straight Game 1 with at least 30 points, which is the longest current streak and is tied for sixth-best all-time. He’s reached at least 30 points 21 times in his first 45 postseason games.

“He’s ready for the moment,” coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “And it’s the Game 1s. It’s the bigger games during the regular season. Like, he has the ability and the understanding of how important the start is. … Some people may have that idea or thought and understanding of it. But he’s got the ability to time and time [again] go to that space.”

There’s more from Cleveland:

  • Mitchell began the playoffs amid speculation regarding how much longer he’ll be in Cleveland, notes Jason Lloyd of The Athletic. Lloyd contends that Mitchell’s best move would be to sign an extension, which could be worth more than $200MM over four years, pointing out that he has played his best basketball since joining the Cavaliers and it would give the core of the team more time to grow together. Mitchell could always request a trade in another year or two if things don’t work out, Lloyd adds. An unidentified executive tells Josh Robbins and Sam Amick of The Athletic that several teams are prepared to pursue Mitchell if the Cavs suffer an early playoff exit and decide to make him available.
  • The Cavaliers learned how tough the playoffs can be in last year’s first-round ouster against New York, and they hope to build on that experience against a young Orlando team, per Joe Vardon of The Athletic. “For the veterans … we’ve been in playoff series, been in a handful up or down,” Tristan Thompson said. “We know what it takes, so I think it’s a good combination. We have guys who’ve had success, but also guys who have had failure and are hungry for (another opportunity).”
  • After the Cavs were dominated on the boards by the Knicks last year, Bickerstaff challenged his team to win the rebounding battle against the Magic, and they responded with a 54-40 advantage in Game 1, notes Nate Ulrich of The Akron Beacon Journal. “Just go get the ball at any cost,” Jarrett Allen said. “It doesn’t matter if you’ve got to push your man to go get the ball or jump over somebody’s back, just come up with a rebound.”
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