Donovan Mitchell's Unwavering Confidence in Darius Garland Paid Off in Cavaliers' Win

The Cavaliers veteran kept believing in his teammate through early struggles in Game 7 against the Orlando Magic.
Cleveland Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell celebrates with Darius Garland after a three-pointer in the fourth quarter.
Cleveland Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell celebrates with Darius Garland after a three-pointer in the fourth quarter. / Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Darius Garland was struggling mightily in the early stages of the Cleveland Cavaliers' 106–94 win over the Orlando Magic in Game 7 on Sunday.

Through three quarters, Garland had two points on 1-of-9 shooting, two turnovers and four fouls. The Cavaliers held an eight-point lead over the Magic heading into the fourth quarter, but if they were going to send Orlando home and advance in the playoffs, they needed their second-leading scorer to step up.

Television cameras caught veteran guard Donovan Mitchell chatting with Garland on the bench during the game. His message? Keep going.

"He kept trusting me," Garland said after the game. "... It’s cool to have him in my ear telling me to keep going, stay confident in myself and that the entire team and organization believes in me. I really needed it, so it was good.”

Garland delivered when it mattered most. The Magic were hanging around, trailing by eight points with six minutes to play. Garland missed a three-pointer, but after an offensive rebound, Mitchell shoveled it over to Garland again. This time, he connected to put Cleveland up double digits.

Mitchell went over to Garland and gave him a big hug.

"To see him respond like that, when he hit that three, I knew he was back," Mitchell said after the game. "Sometimes you just need that—second opportunity. ... That's huge. That's who he needs to be."

Garland scored 10 of his 12 points in the fourth quarter to help the Cavaliers finish off Orlando.

Cleveland now advances to the Eastern Conference semifinals to face the Boston Celtics, who finished the regular season with the NBA's best record (64–18). Game 1 between the Cavaliers and Celtics is scheduled for 7 p.m. ET Tuesday at TD Garden.


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Tom Dierberger

TOM DIERBERGER

Tom Dierberger is a writer and editor for the Breaking & Trending News Team at Sports Illustrated. Tom joined SI in 2023 after stints at FOX Sports, Bally Sports, and NBC Sports. In his spare time, Tom can be seen throwing out his arm while playing fetch with his dog, Walter B. Boy.