The Cleveland Cavaliers find themselves in a win-or-go-home situation entering their Game 5 matchup against the New York Knicks after losing 102-93 on Sunday. It was a game in which Darius Garland posted a 23-point, 10-rebound double-double, and saw five other Cavs players score in double figures. However, there was one notable outlier in that bunch, as All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell finished the game with just 11 points on 5-of-18 shooting from the field. He also finished the game with six turnovers as New York's defense figured out how to hold the Cavs to under 100 points for the third time in the series.
It was an uncharacteristic performance from Mitchell, who had been averaging over 25 points in the previous three games of this series. In a game where the Cavaliers really needed to win in order to tie up the series before heading back to Cleveland, Mitchell couldn't hit shots when his team needed him most. However, he'll be the first to admit that his performance in that game was a dud.
"I didn't show up for my teammates," Mitchell said following the loss. Everybody did their job, and I didn't do what I was capable of. That's on me. I played like shit. I'm the leader of this group. Everybody did their job. I didn't. Simple as that."
Mitchell went on further to criticize his own performance.
"Probably the second- or third-worst playoff game in my career," Mitchell said. "We had our faults as a group, but ultimately, I didn't do what I was supposed to do. I'll take that. I've had worse playoff games. I've been here before. It's just a matter of going out there to try to be better for our teammates. Like I said, you can ask them to do so much. They did a great job, but I didn't show up. That's on me."
Well, you have to appreciate Mitchell's transparency and accountability. Yes, he had a poor showing on Sunday, but some of it can be chalked up to just a bad game. He got some good looks, shots just weren't falling, it happens. The bigger issue that Cleveland will have to address in the offseason is getting more shooters on this team.
Without reliable shooters out on the perimeter, New York is able to send multiple defenders at Mitchell and crowd the paint, forcing him to convert tough shots. When Mitchell gets doubled, the Cavs also don't have a ton of creators outside of Garland and the inconsistent Caris LeVert to go and get their own shot. Those aren't issues that the team can immediately address during this series, but this matchup against the Knicks has shown where Cleveland needs to improve going forward.
As for Mitchell, given the off night he had Sunday it sounds like he'll have some extra motivation for Game 5. Considering the Cavaliers are also facing elimination heading into that game, I wouldn't be surprised if Mitchell bounced back in a big way to lead his team to a win.