Donovan Mitchell and the Cleveland Cavaliers have been rolling as of late. In fact, the Cavs have lost only two games since the calendar switched over to 2024, and Mitchell has established himself as something of a sleeper MVP candidate, keeping his team not only afloat but thriving in a crowded Eastern Conference playoff picture.

Still, once the postseason arrives, Mitchell and his teammates will have some serious demons to exorcise pertaining to last year’s brutal showing against the New York Knicks, in which the underdog Knicks sent Cleveland home in just five games.

Evidently, that epic failure hung a cloud over the organization, one that the Cavs are still trying to work through.

“The domination was such that it seemingly had a deep, psychological effect on the Cleveland organization. Some of that impact was acknowledged by players,” reported Joe Vardon of The Athletic. “But it brought into focus the urgency of the moment, with Mitchell’s decision on a contract extension likely tied to how good he thinks the Cavs can be.”

Any good feeling that derived from the Cavs’ most successful season since the second departure of LeBron James last year was quickly eradicated by Cleveland’s embarrassment in the playoffs, as both Mitchell and costar Darius Garland melted down under the bright Madison Square Garden lights, calling into question everything the fans thought they knew about their team.

Of course, Cleveland will have a chance to amend that failure this postseason, where they will be in prime position to once again host a playoff series, and maybe more.