The Cleveland Cavaliers became a legitimate playoff team during the 2022-23 season, thanks in large part to the superstar play of Donovan Mitchell. However, the Cavaliers’ first trip to the playoffs in the post-LeBron James era was shortly-lived. The New York Knicks overwhelmed the Cavs with their physicality, sending them home early by defeating them in five games.

A year later, and the Cavs have another opportunity to give a better account of themselves in the playoffs. This time, they’ll be facing the Orlando Magic, an upstart team that will have the size and length to bother the Cavs yet again.

For Donovan Mitchell, the recipe for the Cavs’ success is simple; he needs his teammates to be at their best, with every player having to play their role to a T so they could avoid yet another disappointing showing in the playoffs.

“I can’t do it all by myself. You need your guys, and I’ve always been a supporter of every teammate I’ve ever had. I’m not the player I am without them, and I think that’s something that I feel is important. I feel like it’s key in order for us to have the success we have, to form that relationship, the trust on the floor,” Mitchell said, per Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal.

It will be imperative for the Cavs to give Donovan Mitchell the requisite support, especially when the Magic, more likely than not, will be tasking Jalen Suggs with the responsibility of defending Mitchell.

Donovan Mitchell’s history of resorting to hero ball in the playoffs

Donovan Mitchell has been history flanked by players who are more of connectors and play finishers in the offense. During the 2021 NBA playoffs, when Mitchell was still with the Utah Jazz, Spida was very ball-dominant, and at times, the offense became too Mitchell-centric.

Now, that isn’t exactly a bad thing. Mitchell has a history of playing well in the playoffs, but when the going gets rough, the star shooting guard has tended to take on the world on his own.

With the Cavs, Donovan Mitchell has Darius Garland and Caris LeVert to help him with offensive creation duties when the going gets rough. Evan Mobley has flashed an improved three-point stroke since returning from injury, while Jarrett Allen has shown that he can be a playmaking hub around the perimeter. Allen has a point to prove anyway, as he’ll be raring to show that the lights are no longer too bright for him and his team.

How the Cavs match up against the Magic

The Cavs and Magic split the season series at two apiece, with Orlando taking the most recent game back on February 22. Alas, it’s difficult to gauge how the first-round series would go from how the two teams matched up this past season, as the Cavs missed a few key guys across three of their four matchups.

One of the Cavs’ main points of emphasis is to win the interior battle against the Magic. Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen will have their hands full against Paolo Banchero and Franz Wagner, with the two big ball-handlers being able to apply a ton of rim pressure towards their opponents.

The Magic made the fewest three-point shots this season, so if the Cavs win the battle in the paint, then it”ll be hard for Cleveland to fumble the series. They have a huge advantage in perimeter shot-making thanks to Donovan Mitchell, Darius Garland, and Max Strus.