The Cleveland Cavaliers don’t just believe Donovan Mitchell was justified for going back at Draymond Green after he received a shove by the Golden State Warriors star from behind while running in transition. Cavs coach J.B. Bickerstaff, in fact, is “proud” of Mitchell and his teammates for standing up to Green and the Warriors in front of an amped-up Chase Center crowd.

“It’s our guys standing up for themselves and protecting themselves,” Bickerstaff said Saturday after Cleveland’s 118-110 victory over Golden State . “There was a play before where Donovan was hit in the back. And we’ve talked about it, that we don’t back down from anybody.

“So, again, proud of our guys for standing up for themselves but then again not letting it turn the tide of the game and getting caught up in something that we didn’t need to be caught up in and allowing them to go on a run. That was premeditated to get their team kind of rallied. You felt that building the entire third quarter. I thought it could have been nipped in the bud a little bit earlier.”

Cavs withstand Warriors run after Green’s ejection

Cavs star Evan Mobley called out Draymond Green for a dirty play on Donovan Mitchell

The incident occurred midway through the third quarter, as the Warriors were attempting to come back from a double-digit halftime deficit. After taking a push from Green as he sprinted down the floor, Mitchell raced back the other way and went chest-to-chest with Golden State’s emotional leader, drawing a personal foul and prompting replay review. Officials finally ruled that Green’s prior act instigated Mitchell’s, calling the former for his second technical foul and earning him an automatic ejection.

Cleveland actually lost the lead late in the third quarter, the Warriors’ revamped bench units feeding off an energized home crowd. The Cavs quickly righted the ship in the final stanza, though, re-taking control of the game to salt away its second victory over Golden State in one week.

Bickerstaff’s young team didn’t just stand up to the Dubs on the floor. Evan Mobley wasn’t worried about further fanning flames between the teams on the post-game podium, simply calling the heated interaction between Mitchell and Green like he saw it.

“I think that was a little bit of a dirty play so Donovan retaliated,” he said.