Cavaliers carry 7-game winning streak into Brooklyn
Posted on: 08 Feb, 2024 at 11:22 AM
Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
On Jan. 11 in Paris, Donovan Mitchell and the Cleveland Cavaliers dominated the Brooklyn Nets 111-102.
Lately, Mitchell and the Cavs are excelling regardless of the location, resulting in a rapid climb in the Eastern Conference standings.
The Cavaliers will attempt to push the NBA's longest active winning streak to eight games Thursday night when they face the Nets in New York in the aftermath of the trade deadline.
Cleveland is 2-0 against Brooklyn so far this season and has won the teams' past four meetings thanks to Mitchell. The 27-year-old guard averaged 33.5 points in those games on 48.5 percent shooting, including 40 percent from 3-point range (16-for-40).
In the Paris contest, Mitchell enjoyed his finest performance in 15 career regular-season games against the Nets. He torched Brooklyn for 45 points on 15-of-30 shooting and kicked in 12 rebounds, six assists and four steals.
The win on the international stage was part of Cleveland's 20-4 surge since Dec. 16, which has elevated the Cavaliers from ninth in the East to second, a game ahead of the Milwaukee Bucks and the New York Knicks.
Cleveland's average margin of victory in its current run is 12.3 points, and the streak remained intact with a 114-106 road win over the Washington Wizards on Wednesday. Mitchell scored 14 of his 40 in the fourth quarter on a night when the Cavs did not lead by more than 11 and only went ahead for good on his three-point play with 9:08 left.
"We have finally found our identity, who we are and what we can be," Mitchell said. "We're not the same team as last year. We play differently and have different guys.
"It takes time. Now, we are starting to figure it out and it's a credit to everybody. Checking egos at the door. All of us have found our identity with that and we're continuing to play the way we want to play. Everyone came in with the right intentions, it was just a matter of how."
The Nets, who have matched their season-worst mark of 10 games under .500, are coming off back-to-back lackluster home losses to the Golden State Warriors and the Dallas Mavericks.
After allowing 72 points in the paint to the Warriors on Monday, the Nets let Dallas stars Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving combine for 71 points as the Mavericks rolled to a 119-107 win on Tuesday. Brooklyn trailed by as many as 23 and did not lead in the final three quarters, though it made a few late comeback attempts in the second half.
"Extremely pleased that our guys showed some resiliency and some fight," Brooklyn coach Jacque Vaughn said. "Overall, I give our guys a lot of credit. ... For Ky and Luka to shoot high percentage ... and for us to still be in the game is credit to our guys."
The Nets, who are 7-20 in their past 27, will play short-handed again.
Starters Dorian Finney-Smith (left ankle sprain) and Cameron Johnson (left adductor tightness) along with steady reserve Lonnie Walker IV (left hamstring tightness) will not play against Cleveland after sitting out vs. Dallas.
Without three rotation pieces, the Nets likely will use some of the younger players to offset the minutes played by Mikal Bridges and Cam Thomas. Bridges scored 28 points on Tuesday while Thomas added 16. Royce O'Neale chipped in 18 points off the bench.
It also is possible the Nets could be further undermanned if they make a trade by the Thursday afternoon deadline. Finney-Smith, O'Neale and Spencer Dinwiddie were among the players most prominently mentioned in trade rumors.
--Field Level Media