INDEPENDENCE, Ohio (92.3 The Fan) – Before boarding a plane for New York, the Cleveland Cavaliers got in a workout Monday – and some good news.
Guard Donovan Mitchell, who has been sidelined the last three games with a groin injury, was a full participant.
“He did everything we did,” Cavs head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said following practice.
During the portion of the session open to reporters, Mitchell appeared to move effortlessly on the floor. He shot with ease, including turnaround and step back jumpers.
Mitchell suffered the injury January 16 during a 113-103 win over the New Orleans Pelicans.
Mitchell is averaging 28.4 points while shooting over 48% from the field to go with 4.8 assists and 3.9 rebounds per game this season.
With Mitchell about to return combined with Ricky Rubio’s return January 13, Bickerstaff is challenged with fitting everyone into the rotation and keeping them all engaged and fresh.
“It could be one thing if guys weren't playing well and you were hunting and searching for different lineups,” Bickerstaff said. “We've had a bunch of different guys contribute. So that's the difficult part of it. But we know overall that we have to give every group a chance, so all those guys have to get minutes and have to get on the floor.
“It is tough. It takes time. It takes opportunities away from other people. But again, these are things that building those relationships and that trust and the respect for each other and the type of guys that we have, understand that the team is always the priority.”
The Cavs will begin a three-game trip against the Knicks Tuesday night followed by a back-to-back Thursday and Friday at Houston and Oklahoma City.
Saturday night the Cavs bounced back from a disappointing loss Friday night to the Warriors, who sat four key contributors, by beating the Giannis Antetokounmpo-less Milwaukee Bucks behind a big night from center Evan Mobley.
Mobley exploded for 38 points and nine rebounds in a 114-102 victory.
“That's who he is – understanding the way we played Friday night, and I know that bothered him,” Bickerstaff said. “So Saturday, when we needed him and the team needed him most, he's there for us and he's always been there for us. So I think it's again, a credit to him and who he is and how much this matters to him.”
The Jekyll and Hyde nature of the Cavs, who are 20-5 at home versus 9-14 on the road, remains a bit of a mystery.
“When you go back and watch it, I don't think we've played poorly,” Bickerstaff said. “I think we've done the right things at the end of the day. I think we just didn't make enough shots. Obviously we had some off nights, don't get me wrong, but I think we've played the game the right way on the road. Just haven't done enough to win enough.”