Winning a championship is the most difficult task to pull off in the NBA. Donovan Mitchell knows this on such a spiritual level. For years, even though the Utah Jazz put up solid regular season campaigns, Mitchell fell short in the postseason time and time again (most heartbreakingly in 2020 and 2021). And during Spida’s first season with the Cleveland Cavaliers, he experienced more of the same as the Cavs exited the postseason early after suffering a five-game series defeat to the New York Knicks.
Mitchell did not mince words. Speaking to reporters on media day, he expressed just how much the Cavs’ playoff exit hurt him and how much it fuels him to have a stronger 2023-24 season.
“It hurt. You take the lessons you need to learn and move forward. You put that anger and frustration into your workouts. I know I’m not the only one (on the team) who felt that way,” Mitchell said, per Tony Pesta of SB Nation’s Fear The Sword.
Clearly, the entire Cavs roster is trying to approach their disappointing 2023 playoff performance with a glass half-full approach, with Darius Garland echoing Donovan Mitchell’s statement above. They have no choice but to move forward from there anyway, and it looks like they are doing so with a healthy perspective.
Mitchell, at the very least, recognized that even the greatest players of all time stumble in the playoffs. Michael Jordan notoriously couldn’t overcome the Detroit Pistons in the late 1980s. Another Cavs legend, LeBron James, had to suffer one heartbreaking playoff exit after another, necessitating a departure for him to win a championship. And in recent times, even Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets had to progress from being playoff fodder from 2019 to 2022, to being champions in 2023.
“The only way you really learn is through experience. Sucks to say but the best way to learn is through heartbreak. We had one last year so it’s like, how do we respond this year? I know we will respond the right way,” Mitchell added.
“We addressed different things we feel we needed to fix… but now we have to go out there and put it together as a group, which I have no doubt we will.”