With the Cleveland Cavaliers’ addition of Donovan Mitchell, Darius Garland has mostly flown under the radar for the entirety of the 2022-23 season following an All-Star campaign. Mitchell’s arrival meant that Garland would have less time commandeering the Cavs’ offense, so the 23-year old floor general would have to maximize his touches all the more. But in Game 1, it looked like Garland took too much of a backseat to Mitchell, as their blockbuster offseason acquisition took 30 shot attempts en route to a four-point defeat.
Mitchell knew that for the Cavs to play their best basketball, Garland would have to be more aggressive. And clearly, following a 32-point Game 2 performance, Garland took that to heart, especially after ruing the opportunities he passed up on in their narrow defeat during their playoff opener.
“I was hard on myself. I know I had some opportunities to go be aggressive that I didn’t take. Watching the film, I was upset with myself,” Garland said, per Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com.
Thankfully for the Cavs, Darius Garland didn’t let him being upset with himself disrupt the flow of his game. There are times when players, in an effort to make amends for their previous mistakes, try to force the issue and, in turn, fall out of rhythm.
But with Donovan Mitchell’s leadership and guidance, Garland certainly felt empowered, as evidenced by his electric Game 2 bounce-back performance that led to a dominant 107-90 win.
“At the end of the day, we’re teammates and brothers, but I want him to be the best player he can possibly be. Just kind of feeding that confidence. I told him, ‘Go do you, go be the All-Star that you are,'” Mitchell said.
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Even the Cavs floor general knew how big of a deal it was that he kept his composure, which was a testament to the confidence boost he received from the belief his teammates had in him.
“Just responding like this and having everybody come around me and tell me to go be aggressive, go shoot the shots, it meant a lot to me. Just to be on this stage and have that confidence from my teammates and my coaching staff, all of them behind me, it’s a good feeling right now,” Garland added.
Darius Garland and the Cavs will look to keep it rolling as they look to take a 2-1 series lead against the Knicks on Friday at 8:30 PM E.T.