Darius Garland is “extremely close” to a return, according to Cleveland Cavaliers head coach J.B. Bickerstaff. Garland has been sidelined since Dec. 16 with a fractured jaw.
How close is #Cavs Darius Garland to making his return? “Extremely close,” says coach J.B. Bickerstaff.— Chris Fedor (@ChrisFedor) January 29, 2024
Recovering from a broken jaw is no easy task. Garland’s liquid-only diet reportedly resulted in the point guard losing significant weight. Returning to full strength meant recouping some of what was lost during the time his jaw was wired shut.
On Jan. 16, Garland’s jaw was freed. Since then, he has been progressing to a return that is apparently on the horizon. His star teammate, Evan Mobley, makes his return Monday against the Los Angeles Clippers.
Garland and Mobley both suffered crushing injuries at roughly the same time. Soon, however, the two will be back in the fold — putting Cleveland at full strength for the first time in what feels like forever.
In their absence, the Cavaliers have managed to turn the season around. Improving from 13-12 (.520) to 27-16 (.627) during this stretch. While the Cavs have been playing fantastic team basketball, there is no question they are happy to have two of their most important players available.
So far this season, Garland is averaging a somewhat underwhelming 20.7 points and 5.9 assists. His three-point shooting and playmaking had taken clear steps backward from the previous two years. Before fracturing his jaw, Garland also dealt with hand, neck and hamstring injuries that may have led to his inconsistent performances to start the season.
Regardless, Garland has proven his ability to command an NBA offense in the past. With how promising the Cavaliers look on that side of the ball right now — it is a thrill to know DG is nearing a return.