Craig Porter Jr., you might be in line for minutes.
Porter Jr., a 23-year-old rookie, isn’t in the Cavaliers’ real plans this year. He’s on a two-way deal and is only playing minutes when injuries give J.B. Bickerstaff no other options.
But Porter Jr. is also making a case for himself to get minutes as a the Cavs’ backup point guard as they deal with various injuries. In his minutes against the Pistons, he looked composed and sure of himself, much more so than he had in previous run. If this his how he’s going to play, why not give him minutes for the next few weeks as the Cavs get healthier? He earned it with this performance.
Darius Garland, scorer first.
Garland led the Cavs with 28 points on Friday, taking on a leader scorer role with Donovan Mitchell out. His shot profile was a good mix — 8-14 on two-pointers, 2-5 from three and 6-8 from the line. Shot taking and making like this was needed and part of what can push Garland up to the next level as a player. They need more of this even when Mitchell is back.
Against Detroit, the Cavs took a season-low 21 three-pointers. This is probably something off a one-off with Mitchell out, as Mitchell has one of the team’s highest three-point rates. But with him out, the team’s three-point volume dipped and fell well behind the Pistons’. If Detroit had made more three-pointers, this could have been a problem.
Again: Mitchell will return and it’s probably nothing. But it’s worth looking at for a team that has made a point to get up more three-pointers so far this season.
At some point, the Cavs will get healthy. Mitchell will be back from his hamstring issue. Isaac Okoro’s knee will get right and he’ll return and give the Cavs the perimeter and point of attack defense they are currently missing. Ty Jerome will get back too, likely sending Porter Jr. to the G League.
But for right now, this team is just not healthy. Garland returns from his neck issue, but Mitchell sits. When that happens, the Cavs can work towards something beyond what they’ve been so far.