Central Notes: Mobley, Garland, Pacers, Giannis, Lillard

Jarrett Allen‘s rib injury meant the Cavaliers needed a huge performance from Evan Mobley in Game 5, and he responded with 14 points, 13 rebounds and a game-saving block in the final seconds, writes Kendra Andrews of ESPN. Mobley switched onto Orlando’s Franz Wagner on a drive to the basket and tipped away a shot that would have tied the game.

“It was a big play,” Mobley said. “The game was on the line. I just went for it. I knew he was going to go for the layup. So, went for it, got a clean block and we got the rebound. So, got us to win. I’m just trying to make game-winning plays and winning plays as much as possible, especially on the stretch. And I feel like I did a good job this game.”

The win was vital for a Cavs team that had just come off two lopsided losses to the Magic and was hoping to avoid going to back to Orlando with a 3-2 deficit. Allen is considered day to day, and there’s no indication yet of whether he’ll be ready when the series resumes Friday night. Coach J.B. Bickerstaff said the team will continue to use a “committee” approach if his starting center isn’t available.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • After struggling to score for most of the series, Darius Garland provided an early spark for the Cavaliers in Game 5, Andrews adds. Garland, who had plus-minus ratings of minus-22 and minus-27 in the two losses at Orlando, poured in 17 points in the first quarter Tuesday. “Shoot. Shoot. Shoot,” Donovan Mitchell responded when asked about his advice for Garland. “I don’t give a damn. Shoot the ball. At the end of the day, go out swinging — and there’s a different spark we get when he’s like that. You see it. I’ve set the tones in Games 1 and 2, but there’s a different spark too when he’s also continuing to go. He’s a guy that’s [an] All-Star-level player, caliber player, and he’s just — shoot the ball, be you, be aggressive. And that’s what you see tonight.”
  • The Pacers feel like they squandered a golden opportunity to close out their series, losing by 23 points Tuesday to a Bucks team playing without Giannis Antetokounmpo and Damian Lillard, per Kelly Iko of The Athletic. Indiana players realize that they’ll have to match Milwaukee’s intensity in Game 6. “We gotta understand they’re a team on the brink of their season being done,” Tyrese Haliburton said. “They’re playing desperate, they’re playing hard as they should be. They out-competed us tonight. Dominated us in every facet of the game.”
  • The Bucks may continue to be short-handed as Antetokounmpo (left soleus strain) and Lillard (right Achilles tendinitis) are both listed as doubtful for Thursday’s contest, tweets Eric Nehm of The Athletic. Patrick Beverley (right oblique muscle strain) and Khris Middleton (right ankle sprain) are considered probable.
View Comments (5)