As far as the talent of the highly-ranked Cleveland Cavaliers has carried them through the Eastern Conference, Cavs guard Donovan Mitchell said players have to experience the playoffs if they are to find success in the postseason.
“At the end of the day, you have to experience it,” Mitchell said, via Sports Illustrated senior writer Chris Mannix. “You have to feel it. You can’t really describe the playoffs until you’re there.”
Cleveland stands firmly at three full games ahead of the Brooklyn Nets for fourth place in the Eastern Conference. Though the Cavs’ strength of schedule was ranked as one of the easiest by Tankathon, a recent stretch of tough opponents has added to the difficulty of finding an advantage in the playoffs.
Donovan Mitchell once credited his time with the Utah Jazz for his ability to play a more selfless form of basketball for the Cavs. He said the combination of working with trusting teammates like guard Mike Conley and center Rudy Gobert and having the ability to work freely on offense allowed him to appreciate the value of a more team-based game plan.
After a while, making the playoffs started to feel the same to the 26-year-old guard.
“After a while it became the same,” Donovan Mitchell said. “Everything becomes the same. And I don’t mean the guys. I loved the guys. I loved my teammates. But you have to allow, when you make the playoffs every year it becomes an expectation. And then the losses, they’re the toughest part.
“Wins are like ‘Oh, you’re supposed to do that.’ But when you lose it’s a big deal. We were so talented, [and] there were different things we didn’t accomplish. … Things didn’t go well, but I appreciate it because it’s helped me grow to be the player that I know I can be.”