Cavaliers Notes: Garland, Mobley, Wade, Defense

Cavaliers guard Darius Garland returned to the court Friday night after missing three games with a sprained right thumb, but the injury was clearly bothering him, writes Chris Fedor of Garland scored 21 points, but shot just 1-of-6 from three-point range and admitted that a wrap he wore on his hand affected his ability to dribble and prevented him from playing his normal style.

“Felt like I could come back and help the team,” Garland said. “I’m trying to just go out there and play through it. I know it’s gonna have an effect on me. I was just trying to fight through and play my game.”

The Cavs needed Garland on Friday with Donovan Mitchell being held out for rest and Ricky Rubio still not ready to start playing. Fedor observed that Garland took another hard hit to the thumb area during the game, along with a shot to the eye and an inadvertent kick to the groin.

“He’s out there taking a beating,” coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “He kept fighting. We’re gonna have to figure something out as a way to protect it. But I don’t know if you can. It’s tough the way he plays and the way he’s defended. People are handsy and they do a lot of swiping at the ball trying to get steals, not in a malicious way by any means, I’m not trying to say that, but his hands are involved in a lot of the plays. I thought he got through it. He’s a tough kid.”

There’s more on the Cavaliers:

  • Evan Mobley spent the summer working to improve his offense in anticipation of a larger role on that end of the court, but plans changed with the trade for Mitchell, according to Joe Vardon of The Athletic. Mitchell provides Cleveland with an elite scorer, and as a result, Mobley is getting fewer shots than he did as a rookie. “Every time I go out there, shooting shots, I can find my spots as much as possible and just let the game come to me — try not to force too often,” Mobley said. “… Some guys have to be the guy and I don’t necessarily have to be the guy on this team, but I’m just gonna try to traditionally produce as much as I can in my role right now.”
  • Dean Wade is making progress with a left shoulder injury that has sidelined him for more than a month, tweets Kelsey Russo of The Athletic. Bickerstaff told reporters Friday that he expects Wade back “sooner rather than later.”
  • The Cavaliers take pride in having the league’s best defensive rating, Russo writes in a full story. Cleveland has held opponents under 100 points 12 times this season and has been able to win games on nights when the offense isn’t clicking. Since Russo published that story, the Cavs have slipped to second in defensive rating, with the Grizzlies inching ahead of them — Cleveland’s mark is still best in the East.
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