Cavs’ Donovan Mitchell missing Game 4 shootaround adds another injury concern vs. Celtics

Tony Nguyen | Boston Celtics
May 14, 2024

The Cleveland Cavaliers could fall to 3-1 against the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, which understandably causes unease. That unease quickly becomes impending dread when Cleveland superstar Donovan Mitchell’s availability for Game 4 remains up in the air.

Mitchell is dealing with a strained left calf and was not seen on the court for the portion of the team’s shootaround that was open to the media. While it’s been reported that Mitchell watched the film and underwent treatment at Cleveland Clinic Courts, his status is listed as questionable heading into Game 4 and will likely be a game-time decision, depending on how his calf feels.

Mitchell has been pushing through a left knee bone bruise since mid-February, but the calf injury is a recent development. He likely suffered it in the Cavs’ 106-93 home loss to the Celtics in Game 3.

Towards the end of the game, when Mitchell logged nearly 44 minutes of action, he noticeably walked with a limp and appeared to be cramping up from fatigue. While walking to the podium for his postgame media availability, Mitchell was also limping, further driving home the discomfort in his strained left calf.

Who can step up if Donovan Mitchell doesn’t play in Game 4?

Cleveland Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell (45) stands on the court in the second quarter of game three of the second round of the 2024 NBA playoffs against the Boston Celtics at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.
David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Again, Mitchell’s availability will likely be decided soon before tip-off in Game 4 between Cleveland and Boston. If Mitchell cannot go, Game 4 might be a rough time for the Cavs since they’re 12-15 this season without him and have struggled against the Celtics whenever Mitchell has gotten an opportunity to rest on the sidelines.

So, to avoid adding another loss to that record, Cleveland needs Darius Garland, Mitchell’s backcourt co-star, to step up and shoulder the responsibilities he typically shares with Mitchell on the court. Garland seemed aware of this as the team wrapped up their morning practice before Game 4, regardless of whether Mitchell is or isn’t available. To Garland, the Cavs need to be aggressive the moment Game 4 begins.

“Play as a team, keep the ball moving, have them chasing us around a little bit, and then trust each other,” Garland said. “We have a lot of guys that’s super confident in themselves, so we need them to be super confident tonight, make the extra pass and just play as a team.

“It’s all my responsibility. I’m the leader of the floor, so I just have to take control, be aggressive, make the right play, and just try to get downhill.”

When Garland and Cleveland can get downhill and attack the basket, it best happens in Game 3 when they play with smaller lineups. If Mitchell is unavailable, the Cavs might lean on going smaller more often to create spacing and driving lanes toward the basket, which would help give them a better chance against the Celtics.

On a more positive note, Cleveland starting center Jarrett Allen has missed the past six playoff games with a rib injury suffered in the first round against the Orlando Magic.

While he is listed as questionable for Game 4 versus the Celtics, Allen participated but didn’t do much in the portion of the shootaround open to the media. He took a few foul shots, as he has in at least one other recent shootaround viewed by the media, but it is encouraging that Allen continues to test his pain tolerance with this nagging rib injury.

While it remains unlikely Allen will play, hopefully, he’ll be back sooner rather than later, especially if Donovan Mitchell is sidelined due to his strained calf. Cleveland will need all the good health and support they can get, especially when facing going down 3-1 to Boston in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.