Donovan Mitchell refused to settle for another early postseason exit.

“I’m tired of losing in the first round,” Mitchell told reporters after scoring 39 points and leading his Cleveland Cavaliers to a Game 7 win over the Orlando Magic on Sunday, courtesy of ESPN’s Kendra Andrews. “You work too hard. We work too hard. That was my mindset … for me, just be in attack mode.

“I’m battling through what I’m battling through, but I could battle through it and figure it out, or rehab it for the next three or four months. That’s where I’m at mentally.”


Mitchell’s game-high 39 came on 11-of-27 shooting. He also made 15 of 17 free throws. However, it wasn’t until the second half that the Cavs star’s game came alive; the 27-year-old dropped 17 of his 24 second-half points in the third quarter alone, going 7-of-9 from the field and splitting a pair of 3-point attempts. He was a plus-18 in the frame and helped the Cavaliers enter the fourth with an eight-point lead after trailing by 10 at the half.

Cleveland led the entire fourth quarter, locking up its first second-round berth since 2018 – but its first without LeBron James on the roster since 1993.

For Mitchell, it’s only the third time the five-time All-Star’s advanced out of the first round in seven playoff trips. Mitchell last played in the second round with the Utah Jazz in 2021, when they lost in six games to the Los Angeles Clippers after taking a 2-0 lead. His only other conference semifinals appearance came in his 2017-18 rookie season – a five-game series loss to the Houston Rockets.

At one point, Mitchell was seen trying to inspire backcourt partner Darius Garland, who went 1-of-6 and 0-of-2 from distance in the first half. Garland eventually made his first three of the contest at the 5:53 mark in the fourth on a kick-out assist by Mitchell, who immediately hyped up his teammate.

“He’s the guy that can pull everybody along, not just with his skill but in spirit as well,” Cavs head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said postgame.

“When you see your teammate, a guy you care about, playing that way, you don’t want to let that guy down. So, you go out and do whatever you can to help that guy. We talk about (how) everybody has their style and their piece of leadership here, and that’s how Don leads: by being special in the moment. His teammates want to be a part of it, don’t want to disappoint him because that’s how they care about each other, so they go out and do more so they can help.”