Though regular season games can’t quite fully replicate the 39 games Cleveland Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell has started in, the 26-year-old guard said there were moments this season that were, or will be, kind of like the playoffs before the Cavs take on the Miami Heat.
“I think tomorrow will be that,” Mitchell said in Monday’s practice. “I think tomorrow’s definitely going to be a playoff-type game.”
Mitchell listed the overtime thriller against the Boston Celtics in November, games against the Milwaukee Bucks, the Los Angeles Clippers and both games with the Golden State Warriors. The game the Cavs lost to the Utah Jazz in Vivint Arena, he added, had a playoff atmosphere of its own.
Though Cavs center Jarrett Allen said they were able to learn from their loss to the Warriors, Mitchell still pointed out the difficulty Tuesday’s matchup against the Heat would bring.
“Tomorrow will be another test for us,” Donovan Mitchell said. “Being able to let guys in and say ‘hey, this is what it’s going to be like.’”
The Heat made the playoffs for two consecutive seasons after their NBA Finals appearance in 2020. Heat forward Jimmy Butler, who is listed as “questionable” before Tuesday’s game, has earned playoff appearances with the Heat, Chicago Bulls and Minnesota Timberwolves.
The Cavs sit at 2.5 games ahead of the Heat for fifth in the Eastern Conference. The close conference standings only added to the importance of every NBA game, Donovan Mitchell added.
“This seeding is crazy,” Mitchell said. “You can either win four in a row and be second or lose four in a row and be tenth.
“Understanding that every game counts, but also in the same token not putting pressure on yourself because it can wear on you as the year goes on.”
The Cavs will tip off against the Heat at 7 p.m. EST on Tuesday in Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse. The game will be broadcasted on Bally Sports Ohio.