The Cavaliers will be without their star backcourt for Friday’s game at Detroit, as Darius Garland and Donovan Mitchell were both injured during Wednesday’s victory over Boston, sources tell Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. Neither injury is considered serious, but obviously they’re hobbled enough to be out tonight.
As Fedor writes in another story for Cleveland.com, both players had previously been listed as questionable. Garland sprained his left knee trying to track down a loose ball against the Celtics, while Mitchell suffered a sprained left ankle. Garland and Mitchell were partial participants during Friday’s shootaround, with Fedor noting that Garland was icing his knee afterward.
According to Fedor, the Cavs will shuffle their starting lineup around to account for the absence of the two All-Star guards, with Caris LeVert moving to point guard, Isaac Okoro at shooting guard, and Dean Wade at small forward. Fedor also reports that reserve point guard Raul Neto, a free agent addition over the summer, will be available Friday after dealing with a sprained ankle of his own that caused him to miss Wednesday’s game.
The Cavaliers confirmed the news that Garland and Mitchell will be out (Twitter link).
It’s an unfortunate turn of events for Garland, who had missed five straight games after suffering a lacerated eyelid in the season opener in Toronto. Kelsey Russo of The Athletic has the story on Garland’s eye injury and recovery process, writing that the 22-year-old had impaired vision when trying dribble with his right hand, so he mostly worked on his left during the two weeks he was out.
“Yeah, I was super scared,” Garland admitted. “When it first happened, I rolled over, I felt blood coming out of my eye. So that’s when I got really nervous. And I was ready for surgery in Toronto. I was expecting that. I was expecting stitches and being out a couple of months. But by the grace of God, I’m here with two eyes now and I’m back and I’m healthy.”
Garland and Mitchell looked like a natural fit playing alongside one another during their first full regular season game, according to Jason Lloyd of The Athletic. The two guards combined for 55 points, 11 rebounds, 18 assists, four steals, two blocks and only one turnover during the 114-113 overtime win.
Mitchell says there will be a learning curve as they grow accustomed to one another, but it was certainly a promising start.
“There’s going to be times where it doesn’t look smooth and clean,” Mitchell said. “But as far as us feeling in the flow … both of us are trying to find ways to make each other better. When you start camp off with Coach having to sit both of us down and say, ‘Stop passing the ball to each other — shoot the ball,’ I think that’s a good start.”
Friday’s road game at Detroit will be followed by a four-game west coast road trip against the Lakers, Clippers, Kings and Warriors. The Cavs have gotten off to a terrific start, currently sitting with a 6-1 record.