In Donovan Mitchell-Dillon Brooks scuffle, Cavs show they 'don't run from s***'
CLEVELAND — The Cavaliers might not start it. But they're certainly not going to let it go unanswered, either.
They might not be the team to instigate any trouble or cross any lines with physicality, but they also proved Thursday night they won't tolerate it from any other team in the league.
Midway through the third quarter against the Memphis Grizzlies, Dillon Brooks drove to the hoop, lost the ball and fell to the floor as Donovan Mitchell collected it. Brooks, laying on the floor, rolled over Mitchell's ankle and swung his hand back, hitting Mitchell directly in the groin.
As Mitchell fell he threw the ball at Brooks. Mitchell then quickly and angrily rose to his feet, and the two started pushing one another, with Brooks again falling to the floor and several players, coaches and personnel members from each team joining the altercation.
After a few moments for the refs to review the footage, both Mitchell and Brooks were ejected. As Mitchell walked off the floor, the home crowd gave him a loud ovation.
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Donovan Mitchell criticizes Dillon Brooks for another dirty play
After the game, Mitchell walked to the interview room himself, wanting to make sure he spoke his mind. He didn't hold back, ripping Brooks for the dirty play. He also made it clear he's tired of Brooks' antics, which have become known around the league and have involved other players.
When asked if he thought it was a cheap shot, Mitchell said matter of factly, "Yeah, for sure."
"That’s just who he is. We have seen it a bunch in this league with him," Mitchell said. "Him and I have had our personal battles for years. Quite frankly, I’ve been busting his ass for years. Playoffs. Regular season. And the one game he does an all right job on me today, he decides to do something like that. No place for that in the game."
The trash talk, as it was noted, is no big deal. Even a little chippy-ness can be tolerated to an extent. But a cheap shot isn't something that will go ignored.
"This has happened to other players throughout this league, and it's bull****," Mitchell said. "If we're being honest with you, it's complete bull****. There's one thing, you’ve got [other Grizzlies players], they talk s***, and that's fine. That's all part of basketball. We all grew up playing that way. But when you start doing little cheap s*** like that, that ain't it. That's honestly where my frustration lies."
Mitchell said he will appeal his ejection, as he felt he should have been able to defend himself. It was noted by referee Tony Brothers that Mitchell was specifically tossed for throwing the ball back at Brooks.
"This has been a habit for years and this isn't new to anybody in this room. And if punishment [for Brooks] doesn't come from that, he’s just going to keep doing that," Mitchell said. "It’s just dumb, to be honest with you. Just dumb."
Cavs coach J.B. Bickerstaff believes Donovan Mitchell had a right to defend himself after Dillon Brooks cheap shot
Cavs coach J.B. Bickerstaff wasn't in agreement with the outcome of both players being ejected for their parts in the heated moment.
"If you ask me my personal opinion, I would say no," Bickerstaff said. "If somebody makes a play like that, you should have the right to stand up for yourself. That was a cheap shot in multiple ways … a guy should have the right to stand up for himself. I thought Donovan did that."
The Cavs were in full support of how Mitchell defended himself, both as it happened with players who became involved and after the game speaking with reporters.
In a moment of levity, Darius Garland said at one point he was still in the middle of the scuffle, and then realized Mitchell was already back on the bench, watching the replay. Robin Lopez had called everyone on the bench over to watch it back on a laptop.
"I love my guys, man," Mitchell said, the only time he smiled after the game. "They were watching it on the laptop. I'm trying to be all serious and whatnot and they’re out there just like,’Ooh, ahh.’ And like saying, ‘Look who is here, look who's here.’
"It was Robin Lopez who was the instigator, which was the funniest part about the whole thing. Watching it, telling everybody, pulling everybody over, trying to show everybody the computer. I love my guys, man. They held it down for me."
In a way, the Cavs proved Thursday night they won't take any crap, so to speak. And through and through, they came together to know they have each other's backs. It was a bizarre way to find a team-building exercise, but the response was appreciated by those in the Cavs locker room.
"That's one thing — I'm proud of our guys," Bickerstaff said."We don't have those guys that start s***, but we got guys that don't run from s***. You have to in this league, you have to stand up for yourself. That's what he did, and his teammates had his back."
Garland added, "We’re no sissies over here. We’re not going for all the little cheap shots and stuff like that. Everybody's happy that Don did protect himself and everybody rallied behind him as well. So it was good team camaraderie right there."
And the Cavs, who have been searching for physicality, hope it'll be a message for the league as a whole that they won't be pushed around.
"We’ve got some guys that get after you and we’re going to fight back if you try to push us first," Garland said. "We’re not soft or anything. We’re still some dogs, as I always say, and we’ll never back down from nobody, never lay down for nobody, especially those guys after there.
"We’re two of the top young teams in this league, so whenever we battle out it’s going to be a tough one. And that goes for everybody else in this league, as well. We’re not going to lay down for nobody."
Ryan Lewis can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @ByRyanLewis.
This article originally appeared on Akron Beacon Journal: Donovan Mitchell-Dillon Brooks fight, Cavs call it a 'cheap shot'