After just over a month, the Cleveland Cavaliers (28-16) are now fully healthy. The Cavs will have Evan Mobley, who returned last game against the Los Angeles Clippers, and Darius Garland back and healthy on the court together for the first time since December 6th. In that time, the Cavs have gone a blazing 15-4. Now, they will integrate two key players back into the starting lineup against the lowly Detroit Pistons (6-40) at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse.
Who: Cleveland Cavaliers vs Detroit Pistons
Where: Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse — Cleveland, OH
When: 7 p.m. EST
TV: Bally Sports Ohio, Bally Sports Detroit
Spread: CLE -11.5
Expected Cavs Starting Lineup: Darius Garland, Donovan Mitchell, Max Strus, Evan Mobley, Jarrett Allen
Cavs Injury Report: Darius Garland (jaw, QUESTIONABLE) Tristan Thompson (suspension, OUT), Ty Jerome (OUT, ankle), Isaiah Mobley (G League, OUT), Emoni Bates (G League, OUT)
Expected Pistons Starting Lineup: Cade Cunningham, Jaden Ivey, Kevin Knox, Bojan Bodganovic, Jalen Duren
Pistons Injury Report: Cade Cunninghma (knee, PROBABLE), Malcolm Cazalon (G League, OUT), Stanley Umude (G League, OUT), Jared Rhoden (G League, OUT), Isaiah Stewart (ankle, OUT)
What to watch for: The gang’s all here!
For the first time in a long time, the Cavs are fully healthy. What did they do in that time off? Oh, just went 15-4 and ten of their last 11. That includes victories over the Dallas Mavericks (on the road), Orlando Magic (on the road, the Milwaukee Bucks twice (one on the road), the Atlanta Hawks twice (one on the road), and, most recently, a thriller against the Clippers. That is some impressive stuff from a team that, if this happened last year, would have crumbled into a heap. This year? Not so much.
But, with bringing back two stars, there will be some necessary tinkering to the rotations that could cause some issues. For example, in the previous game against the Clippers, golden boy Sam Merrill only received seven minutes. With Garland back, who will have their minutes reduced? Caris LeVert, Dean Wade, and Georges Niang along with Merrill (likely going to zero) will take a dip in court time. All of those players have had some level of value over this hot stretch, so it will be interesting to see how the coaching staff adjusts the rotations.
Garland is going to take some time to bring back up to game speed like Mobley needed against the Clippers. Mobley only played 20 minutes and tallied ten points and nine rebounds, including a nice coast-to-coast slam.
This thing will likely look a little rusty, even against a bad team like the Pistons. Fortunately, they are playing a bad team like the Pistons so the margin for error will be a little wider.
What to watch for: Jarrett Allen against Jalen Duren
Jarrett Allen has been a double-double machine for about a month now, but he will get a tough test in young Jalen Duren. The 20-year-old Duren is coming off a 22-point, 21-rebound performance against Chet Holmgren and the Oklahoma City Thunder. Allen is still on a hot streak, icing the game against the Clippers with this and-one.
One stat to watch for: three-point attempts
The Cavs upped their three-point attempts per game without Garland, which is quite the feat. However, the key players who helped raise that number are likely going to be out of the rotation completely or have their minutes reduced. The Cavs need to keep shooting threes, and Garland should be able to help with that. The key word is “should”. Garland is actually taking fewer threes per game this season (5.2) than he did last season (6.0) despite being one of the best shooters on the team.