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Watching the market: Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Toronto Raptors

The bigs keep trending in the right direction

NBA: Toronto Raptors at Cleveland Cavaliers David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

The Cleveland Cavaliers had a grind-it-out type of victory against the Toronto Raptors, salvaging a back-to-back and putting the team above .500 once again. Here is how the Cavs are trending in the latest market watch.

Stock up: Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley

The two starting bigs are grouped because they have been playing exceedingly well together. Over the last seven games, Mobley and Allen have combined to average 31.6 points, 18.6 rebounds, and 6.3 assists while continuing to be two of the best big defenders in the league. Lineups with Mobley and Allen in them are in the 85th percentile overall and 94th percentile in allowed effective field goal percentage per Cleaning the Glass. While Darius Garland and Donovan Mitchell have battled injuries throughout the season, Mobley and Allen have continued to prop things up. The big-to-big passing continues to evolve with Mobley in the short roll and Allen in the dunker spot:

Stock up: Tristan Thompson

The Cavs’ backup big comes and goes in terms of usefulness, but there is no denying that when he is needed he shows up. Against Toronto, Thompson had four points, four rebounds (all offensive), and four assists in just seven minutes of court action. Against the Philadelphia 76ers last week, Thompson was the primary defender on Joel Embiid to end the game - and forced a miss that led to overtime and a Cavs’ win. Thompson may be nothing more than an innings eater for the season, but he is also a spark plug off the bench and could contribute to some wins when things are getting tough. Against the Raptors, they were, and Thompson came up in a big way.

Stock down: Donovan Mitchell

Mitchell returned from a hamstring injury on Saturday night against the Lakers, and it was pretty clear he was still shaking off some rust. But late in the game against the Los Angeles Lakers, Mitchell appeared a little gimpy as he waddled back on defense and it there was fear he reinjured trick hamstring ailments. Against the Raptors, Mitchell went 4/17 from the floor to finish his weekend shooting numbers at 8-35 (22.9%) overall and 2-11 (18.2%) from deep. It is clear that something is still irking him, and more rest may be necessary. Trying to play through an injury is not something the Cavs can afford, especially for a ball-dominant player who can sap offensive possessions when efficiency is limited.

Lineups with Garland on the court and Mitchell off have a +/- differential of -4.3 per Cleaning the Glass, but the offense passes the eye test as being a little more free-flowing. Garland is a better playmaker than Mitchell and can set the table for everyone else. In getting others involved, Garland will have the opportunity to get his points as well and defenses are forced to scramble to the outside shooters. The pathway to being a good offense even while Mitchell sits is still there, and the Cavs may have to go that route until he is healthy.