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“I always love playing against my home team” — Donovan Mitchell sounds off on beating New York Knicks

Spida made sure the Knicks regret not trading for him.
Cleveland Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell

Donovan Mitchell

Cleveland Cavaliers newcomer Donovan Mitchell had a night to remember on Sunday after he tallied a career-high 12 assists to help beat the New York Knicks. While it may seem like a normal game, some people around the league were probably anticipating the contest because it marked the first time Mitchell went up against the team rumored as his new home in the past offseason when the Utah Jazz were shopping him.

After the game, the New York native expressed how he reveled in going up against his hometown team.

"I always love playing against my home team," Mitchell said. "It's easy to point to the summer and say that, but I'm pretty much friends with everybody on that team. So it's always good to play against your guys, and I have nothing but love for them. Johnnie Bryant is like a big brother to me. I wouldn't say I used it for that. But everybody will probably make (it) that. Not what it is. When it's your home team, you want to go out there and play hard. That's what I was trying to do."

A stroke of luck for Cleveland

Mitchell has been on fire in the season's first six games. The Cavs are 5-1 to start the 2022-23 campaign, thanks to the three-time All-Star's string of strong performances averaging 32.2 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 7.3 assists per match. Against the Knicks on Sunday, he was his usual self.

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Cleveland is probably thanking its lucky stars for landing Mitchell. After all, it was not among the rumored list of the star's preferred destinations, which included the Knicks, Brooklyn Nets, and Miami Heat. The latter two did not have the assets Utah wanted, which made New York the supposed frontrunner in the Mitchell sweepstakes.

Will Knicks regret it?

The Sunday contest showed what the Knicks missed out on by not doing enough to acquire Mitchell, who even thought he was going home to New York before the Cavs deal went down.

"Like I said, I thought it was New York, I'm not gonna lie to you," the 26-year-old guard said in his introductory press conference in Cleveland. "You know, obviously, who doesn't want to be home next to their mom? I haven't lived at home since I was like an eighth grader, been at boarding school, so that would have been nice. For me, once I found out I got traded and what we're going into, that trumped everything for me. Like I said, I'm truly excited to be here to be part of this group, to be a part of the city."

Of course, it's still early in the season to determine if the Knicks will lament not trading for Mitchell. Currently, they sport a 3-3 standing, but those three wins came against lowly conference rivals. But if the losing starts, the front office will conceivably be kicking itself for the missed opportunity to land a bona fide star.

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