Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Darius Garland is planning to return to the lineup Wednesday after missing 19 games with a fractured jaw according to Shams Charania of The Athletic. This isn’t too surprising considering head coach J.B. Bickerstaff mentioned before Monday’s game that Garland was “extremely close” to returning.
Cavaliers star guard Darius Garland – out since Dec. 14 with a fractured jaw – plans to return Wednesday vs. Pistons, league sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium. Cleveland becomes whole this week with Evan Mobley and Garland back. pic.twitter.com/xBKSqX4G7P— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) January 30, 2024
Wednesday could be the first time Garland and Donovan Mitchell share the floor since the team’s loss to the Boston Celtics on Dec. 14. Since then, Cleveland has gone 15-4 and unlocked a more complete version of Mitchell at the point guard position. Seeing how that translates to moving back to the two-guard will be interesting.
“[Playing the point] allows you to think of the game from a whole different perspective,” Mitchell said after their win over the Los Angeles Clippers. “Even when I do move back to the two, it’s the same thing. . . So it’s taught me and shown me a lot of things that I’ve seen on film that I’ve implemented into my game.”
There will be an adjustment with lineups as well. Guys like Sam Merrill, Isaac Okoro, and Craig Porter Jr. who have shined with Garland out of the lineup, will be forced to take a more reduced role. But going through the process of being without Garland and Evan Mobley, who returned on Monday, should make this team stronger in the long run.
Mitchell doesn’t have any concerns about how quickly Garland will fit back into this team.
“I think with DG, it’s even more seamless,” Mitchell said. “Because the way we’ve been playing fits him. He’s a guy that can get downhill, create, shoot off the catch. It’s a no-brainer with his abilities and style of play.”
There will be an adjustment period. However, Bickerstaff doesn’t believe their style of play will change.
“It took a bit of time for it to all come together and I don’t expect that to change,” Bickerstaff said. “Obviously, when Evan and Darius come back it’s going to be a little bit of an adjustment period with minutes and rotations. All the things that we expect, but we don’t expect this to have to change.”
Garland and Mobley will get a nice runway to ease back into things. Only one of the Cavs’ next seven games comes against a team with a winning record. The team hopes this gives them the time to work through some of the growing pains that come with reintegrating high-usage players.
If there’s anyone excited about Garland coming back, it’s Mitchell. He’s hoping to apply what he’s learned during this stretch and apply it to playing with Garland again.
“I’m excited for that,” Mitchell said. “Not only have I grown, but DG’s gonna continue to do what he does. Now, you have that two-headed monster on the offensive end. I think it’d be something that will be very tough to defend.”