The season is on the line for the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 5 against the Boston Celtics. Down 3-1, the Cavs are hoping to steal another win against the Celtics in Boston to bring this series back to Cleveland for Game 6. Unfortunately, it appears that Cleveland is without Donovan Mitchell, their most important player, in what could be the last game of the season for the Cavs.

Unfortunately, sources confirm initial reporting that he is expected to miss Game 5 for the Cavs against the Celtics due to the injury. While Mitchell tried to gut it out toward the end of Game 3, where his calf was starting to bother him, it shouldn't be surprising that he's unable to play.

Why it isn't surprising Donovan Mitchell could remain sidelined for Cleveland

David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Sure, Mitchell was able to play in Game 3 despite his calf tightening up on him down the stretch, his body likely felt differently the morning after, impacting his ability to walk or do normal daily activities. If Mitchell cannot walk comfortably, he cannot play basketball comfortably. So, shutting him down for Game 5 is the correct call, like it was in Game 4.

More importantly, calf injuries go hand in hand with more serious injuries, including a ruptured Achilles tendon, which could be devastating for Mitchell's long-term career. So the idea of rushing Mitchell back would be foolhardy especially when calf injuries like Mitchell's are measured in weeks, not days.

For example: Giannis Antetokounmpo missed the Milwaukee Bucks’ postseason with a calf strain he suffered late in the regular season. Boston’s Kristaps Porziņģis has missed the last two weeks with a calf strain and isn’t expected to appear in this series against Cleveland. Sure, Mitchell and others might've been hopeful that he could play in Game 5. But it always seemed unrealistic to expect Mitchell to recover enough in time just to play at less than 100% in a postseason game, regardless of what’s at stake for the Cavs.

Regardless of timelines, the left calf strain is the latest in a series of left leg issues Mitchell has dealt with ever since the All-Star break. Mitchell missed 15 of Cleveland's first 20 games after the break with a couple of different issues, including lingering ones in his left quad and knee.

Mitchell also appeared to be limited by it at times during the playoffs because of his knee although that hasn't stopped him from putting together a remarkable playoff run through his first 10 games of this postseason, more or less putting the Cavs on his back. The 27-year-old has averaged over 35 points across his last six postseason games with the Cavs and has scored at least 25 in all of them — something only LeBron James has done in Cleveland franchise history.

So, the likelihood Mitchell would play always seemed like a miracle, if anything, and now, fans will have to wring their hands if this was the last time they'll see Mitchell in a Cavs uniform. Cleveland is expected to offer Donovan Mitchell a max contract extension this offseason but would almost certainly have to explore trading him if he declines. Mitchell can become a free agent after the 2024-25 season.

The only way to make that happen is for Darius Garland and Evan Mobley to lock in on offense and for the Cavs to have an answer to the Celtics on the perimeter to force a Game 6 in Cleveland. If they don't, then an offseason of endless speculation is set to begin.