***Video above: Donovan Mitchell speaks after Cavs win***
CLEVELAND (WJW) – Darius Garland had a Game 1 he’d like to forget.
It’s not because he didn’t shoot the ball well – he had 17 points. It’s because of the opportunities he passed up in the 4th quarter in Game 1 that had him down. That is, until a conversation had with his team, but specifically Donovan Mitchell.
“I watched the film from the first game and saw some opportunities to get mine and be aggressive,” Garland said.
The film didn’t lie, but the turning point in Garland’s progression occurred after practice on Monday. Mitchell sat down with Darius and gave him some much-needed words of encouragement.
“I told him, ‘look, I’ll be here, but go do you,’” Mitchell said. “For us to be successful as a team and for the rest of his career, he has to continue to be that aggressive guy and you saw that tonight.”
That talk after practice paid off. Garland’s aggressive play netted him 26 of his 32 points in the first half. The rest of the team followed and fed off of Garland’s play.
“I told him, ‘these guys follow you in the locker room,'” said Mitchell. “’You’ve been here for four years. You’ve been here with this group. You have a pulse on this locker room.’ You saw him tonight with his energy level and do it with a smile on his face. I’m happy for him.”
Ever since the Cavaliers traded for Mitchell last fall, he and Garland have become close on and off the court. Mitchell’s guidance and mentorship is already paying off here early in the postseason.
“I’m always going to be feeding stuff in his ear,’ Mitchell added. “This is what may happen, this is what may come, this is what continuously working.”
“It’s good to have a guy like that and have by back all the time,” Garland said. “He’s been in these situations in his career, so having little talks with him, it’s means a lot.”
“It was a different look in his eye. I think no matter how good we are, players sometimes we need to hear it. I’m sure he’s heard from his people, brother, mom, everybody, but sometimes you need to hear that,” Mitchell said.