Kyle Kuzma, Donovan Mitchell look to lead Wizards, Cavs to more success
Kyle Kuzma and Donovan Mitchell are off to sizzling starts for their respective teams.
Kuzma will look to keep the unbeaten Washington Wizards churning along on the young season Sunday night when they visit Mitchell and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Kuzma collected 22 points and 13 rebounds in Washington’s 114-107 win over the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday before scoring 26 points in a 102-100 victory over the Chicago Bulls on Friday. Those are strong performances considering the 27-year-old appeared to be going through the motions during the preseason.
“I just took my time during preseason. I really just tried to sit back (and get a feel),” Kuzma said, per NBC Sports Washington. “I’ve been in the league long enough to where I can turn it on and off.”
Wizards coach Wes Unseld Jr. has noticed a change in Kuzma on the court this season.
“He’s letting the game come to him, I think reading the flow and playing downhill at times,” Unseld said.
Bradley Beal sank the game-winning shot with 7.4 seconds to play against the Bulls.
“Time and time again we put the ball in (Beal’s) hands for a reason,” Unseld said. “He’s going to make the right play. He did it (on Friday). It’s something we have seen throughout the preseason. He’s made plays. … He’s going to continue to make the right play and it’s going to help us.”
In addition to scoring, Beal has recorded at least five assists in a career-high 19 consecutive games dating back to last season.
Cleveland enters its home opener on a high, and Mitchell is the undisputed reason as to why.
Mitchell has paid immediate dividends since being acquired from the Utah Jazz in a blockbuster deal. The three-time All-Star became the first player in Cavaliers’ franchise history to open a season with back-to-back 30-point performances.
Mitchell collected 31 points and nine assists in Cleveland’s 108-105 setback to the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday before adding 32 points, nine rebounds and eight assists in a 128-96 rout of the Bulls on Saturday.
“I’m really just more happy with the fact that we got the win,” Mitchell said. “The first game, it looked good and felt good, but we lost. So, (Saturday) to go out here and get the first one as a group, it was great. My teammates trust me. My coaches trust me. It just allows you to play with freedom and just do what I do and not put too much pressure on myself.”
The pressure aspect might be a tough pill to swallow, however.
“That’s what we expect from him. That’s what he expects from himself,” Caris LeVert said of Mitchell. “He’s come in and really taken a huge leadership role as well, talkin’ on both sides of the ball and keeping his calm out there.”
The Cavaliers likely will be without All-Star guard Darius Garland for a second straight game on Sunday because of a lacerated left eyelid.
Cleveland coach J.B. Bickerstaff did his best to put a positive spin on it, saying “miracles do happen.”
–Field Level Media