The Cleveland Cavaliers were without both Darius Garland and Donovan Mitchell on Friday night due to injuries both players picked up in Wednesday’s win against the Boston Celtics. The Cavs were able to give their All-Star guards a night off, as they stomped the Detroit Pistons 112-88.
Winning without Darius Garland and Donovan Mitchell = good
There’s not much to this: Winning a game, even against a young, well under .500 Pistons team, without Darius Garland and Donovan Mitchell is a big deal. The win pushes the Cavs to 7-1 on the year and gives them a win that they might not have have been expected to win down their two best offensive players. Later in the year, if seeding in the Eastern Conference playoff picture is tight, a win like this absolutely will matter.
Evan Mobley, defensive demon
With eight blocked shots on Friday, Mobley became the youngest Cavs player ever to record 7+ blocks in a single game. It’s also the most blocks by a Cavs player in a game since Larry Nance Sr. way back in 1993. Mobley, for the record, wasn’t born until 2001.
This was a dominant defensive performance from Mobley. He made defensive plays like this multiple times on top of swatting shots away from the rim.
Lol, this Mobley guy is something else pic.twitter.com/mvoNVTSR5R— Tony Pesta (@Tony_Pesta) November 5, 2022
There’s nothing Mobley can’t do on defense. He eats up space off ball. He can block shots. He closes out on shooters well. He can switch out onto the perimeter and cover wings when the moment dictates it. Mobley, right now, is an All-Defense level player. This was the kind of game the Cavs can pull several moments from when they make the highlight reel come awards season.
The Pistons, to be fair, were down Jalen Duren and played 6’8” Isaiah Stewart most of the time at center. But all a team can do is play who is front them. For the Cavs, that meant dominating Stewart on both ends.
As a team, Cleveland had 58 points in the paint vs. 24 for Detroit. Per Cleaning The Glass, the Cavs took 37% of their shots at the rim vs. the Pistons taking just 24% at the rim. The Cavs made 76.9% of their shots at the rim. The Pistons made just 50%. The league average in rim accuracy is 64.3%, per Cleaning The Glass.
Full-stop, the Cavs were dominant inside. Mobley was, as noted, phenomenal. But Jarrett Allen was great too, shooting 11-16 from the field for 23 points. The vast majority of his shots came right at the basket.
On a night where the Cavs didn’t have Mitchell and Garland, this was the kind of offense they needed.
Up next: The Cavs next play on Sunday in Los Angeles against LeBron James and the Lakers. Tipoff is at 3:30 p.m.