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Donovan Mitchell gives the Cavs a spark to start the season

Cleveland Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell
Ron Schwane
Cleveland Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell celebrates after hitting a three-point basket against the Washington Wizards during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, Oct. 23, 2022, in Cleveland.

The Cleveland Cavaliers are off to a strong start, led by their new star. Donovan Mitchell has been a spark for the team, which has been without fellow All-Star Darius Garland, who suffered a lacerated eyelid in the season-opener.

“It's very exciting, because they’re 2-1. If they did not have Donovan Mitchell, this team could be 0-3 because they would have nobody else in the backcourt to kind of steady the ship, run it and also score,” said sports commentator Terry Pluto in this week's "The View from Pluto" interview.

Over the summer, the Cavs pulled off a mega trade to acquire Mitchell, a three-time All-Star, from the Utah Jazz, giving up Lauri Markkanen, Collin Sexton, Ochai Agbaji, three unprotected first-round picks (2025, 2027 and 2029) and two pick swaps (2026 and 2028).

Mitchell has scored more than 30 points in each of the first three games, matching a 40-year-old franchise record.

“He did not come in here with the idea of having to score 30 [points], because he figured he'd be in the same backcourt with Darius Garland. But when Garland went out, it's like he put the team on his back to make sure he could supply the points and help them win. And this is what a big-time player does,” Pluto said.

After last season’s turnaround, with the Cavs finishing with a record of 44-38 and losing in the play-in game, the team wanted to make sure to continue the momentum.

“You can get bad and stay bad in the NBA. And that was really one of my fears after LeBron left again. But I look at what [General Manger] Koby Altman did, and he drafted very well with Evan Mobley and Darius Garland, but he also made a big trade for Jared Allen, who became an All-Star center, and now he's made a big trade for Donovan Mitchell. When you look at this, you say, ‘now this is a playoff team; this is a team that should be good for at least a couple of years,'” Pluto said.

And the Cavs have been getting strong support from their bench, with players including Robin Lopez, Dean Wade and Cedi Osman.

“When your team is bad, you are not talking about Robin Lopez and Cedi Osman, because they look like just another mediocre player running around with all these other guys. These bench players who have certain things they can do become very important when your team is good because they're surrounded with stars,” Pluto said.

Pluto said it’s going to be a fun team to watch this season.

“It's almost like this is a continuation, in my mind, of the Guardians season. The Guardians were the biggest surprise team. A year ago, the Cavs finished 44-38. Nobody saw that coming. What this does, it should take some of the people's full attention off of the orange helmets of the Browns. Watch something else for some relief here for a while and enjoy the building process of a young team with a lot of enthusiasm. And now the Cavs actually are team with some real stars,” Pluto said.

Pluto’s prediction? “I have them 51-31. I always say if you win more than 50 games, that’s a guarantee to get you in the playoffs and maybe a chance to win a round or two, Pluto said. "So, I'm just excited by the whole thing.”

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