“To be honest, I’m playing very badly right now,” Donovan Mitchell said Saturday, after chaining his third game at 15 points or less in a week (5 of 16 shooting) against Chicago. But the NBA is so crazy and unpredictable right now that two days later, the Cleveland Cavaliers guard cracked a historic performance against the same opponent. 71 points (on 22/34), 11 assists, 8 rebounds, plus an improbable decisive basket to clinch overtime, where he scored 13 of his team’s 15 points, that’s a good thing for you.
It was necessary to fill the 21 points behind and allow the Cavs (4th in the East), deprived of two key pieces, Darius Garland and Evan Mobley, to win against the Bulls (145-134 ap). To say that at halftime, Donovan Mitchell (8th best NBA scorer of the season with an average of 29.3 points) scored “only” 16 points. “This is why his performance was so unexpected, said Bastien Fontanieu, publication director of the basketball site TrahTalk, who followed the match live. There, we saw that all of a sudden, the man had a severe heat stroke, and we wonder how far the heat wave will go. The crazy thing is that the extraordinary has been ignored in the NBA for almost a few days. »
The boxes of Thompson and Embiid went largely unnoticed on Monday
Because in addition to the recital of Rudy Gobert’s former partner in Utah, Slovenian Luka Doncic became the first player in history on December 27 to put together more than 60 points, 20 rebounds and 10 assists in a game, before recovering 51 pawns. for New Year’s Eve, history. Add to that, Monday night, the 54 points, with 10 long-range shots, scored by Warriors gunslinger Klay Thompson against Atlanta (143-141 after two overtimes), or even the 42 points and 11 Joel Embiid’s rebounds were even reduced in the return, against the Pelicans (120-111).
Almost an understatement in this orgy of individual performances at the start of the winter, which also saw King LeBron James score 47 points on Friday, the day of his 38th birthday (then 43 on Monday ), or Zach LaVine (43 with Chicago) and Jordan Poole (41 with Golden State) also feast on December 30. There are so many figures that attract the eyes of Euroleague followers more than ever, where the Serbian Vasilije Micic (Anadolu Efes Istanbul) leads the scoring charts… with an average of 18.1 points.
“We expose ourselves to madness every night”
What place then should be given to the performances of the current Martians, who descend from everywhere across the Atlantic, in the history of basketball? Because yes, it is clear that there is no reason to see Donovan Mitchell, who was beaten by the Blues with Team USA (79-89) in the quarter-finals of the 2019 World Cup (despite his 29 points) bursting into the best performance of a LeBron James and a Kyrie Irving then in their prime in a Cavs jersey (57 points), while entering the restricted circle of six players who have reached the 70-point mark, unlike Michael Jordan Himself (stuck at 69).
We are in an era where the NBA is rubbing its hands because we are exposed to madness every night because there has never been so much talent and stars in the League, believes Bastien Fontanieu. If you don’t stay awake one night, you could find yourself missing out on a historic moment like the likes of Doncic and Mitchell. »
The reasons are obviously many to try to explain this period so favorable to the current monumental offensive cards, starting with the general evolution of the American League. “In the 1990s and 2000s, the game was slower and the NBA did what was necessary to change that, especially in terms of arbitration,” explained Bastien Fontanieu. Understand that in addition to the possibility of an almost unlimited number of moves without blowing the whistle on the market, star attackers are particularly protected.
“We let the show take over”
The killer stat, in this famous Cleveland-Chicago on Monday, is the 20/25 free throws achieved by Donovan Mitchell, who however only shoots 6 shots on average per game this season. The hero of the night is chained “and one” while benefiting from whistles for what will be like caresses on the arms, when we remember the repeated attacks of Bill Laimbeer and the mythical Detroit Bad Boys to Michael Jordan in the late 1980s. Similarly, at 128-130 with 4.7 seconds left in regulation, Donovan Mitchell intentionally missed a free throw in hopes of an offensive rebound and the equalizer basket, just like Luka Doncic did last week. Other than that, “Spida” cross the line before the ball hit the circle, to leap and grab, from his height of 185cm, a decisive rebound before scoring from close range.
Unsurprisingly, the refereeing trio awarded the improbable equaliser, without even reviewing the contested action in slow motion. “NBA referees have been ordered to swallow their whistles in money time matches, says Bastien Fontanieu. In the past, there were star-friendly whistles, but the game was very volatile. Today, the NBA is often like WWE wrestling: we let the show take over. Sometimes you have to go in the direction of the script, and especially in the regular season, it is “open bar” so that young people can sign the performances of the phenomena. “With stricter refereeing, Donovan Mitchell probably stopped at 56 points on Monday, and with the loss at the end…
“Shooting at 10 meters has become the norm”
Of course, the phenomenon of starification of NBA players is not new. In 2017, the promising Devin Booker signed, at the age of only 20, a small 70 points during a Boston-Phoenix. Despite the loss against the Celtics (130-120), all the Suns celebrated their cheap nugget in the locker room, after doing everything to allow him to shine in the second half (51 points scored), sometimes despite a bad – common purpose. Seeing this brave Andre Drummond make no move Monday to block a long-range shot from Donovan Mitchell, or Zach LaVine losing interest in the ball and turning away from him on a crucial counterattack throughout the overtime, we quickly understood that we were Far from the big matchups in the play-offs, which remain regular season games at 82.
More importantly, like the Cavs back on fire on Monday (7/15), the trivialization of shooting at (very) long distances has made the individual kill more accessible. “Like many others, Mitchell (26) is a bit of Steph Curry’s son, said Bastien Fontanieu. Shooting from 10 meters has become the norm for a whole generation of young players, who have carte blanche in their team .The record of the unstoppable 2.16m center Wilt Chamberlain was clearly different when he reached 100 points in a game in 1962. A total that no one had come close to Kobe Bryant in January 2006, in a victory over the Raptors (122 – 104) made legendary by its unreal stat sheet of 81 points (including 7/13 on 3-pointers).
“Mitchell and Robin Lopez combine for 72 points”
But be careful, because as Bastien Fontanieu points out, “all stars historically heat up just after Christmas, so we are not safe from anything”. After all, we’re talking about a League where French full-back Rodrigue Beaubois scored 40 points in 30 minutes of play in March 2010, and where the general public like Mo Williams, Corey Brewer, Terrence Ross, Khris Middleton and Caris LeVert all managed to cross the 50-pawn mark one day.
If there’s one thing that has stood the test of time in the NBA, it’s the humor of obscure players. As Stacey King did 34 years ago, during a card from her partner Michael Jordan, Cavs pivot Robin Lopez split Monday from a the message felt good : “I pointed out that Donovan Mitchell and Robin Lopez combined for 72 points tonight”. This is also theentertainment of the NBA.