Cavs: Darius Garland has career game at SAS; showing ease at controls

Cleveland Cavaliers guard Darius Garland handles the ball. (Photo by Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports)
Cleveland Cavaliers guard Darius Garland handles the ball. (Photo by Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports) /

Darius Garland continues to prove himself as a crucial member of the young core for the Cleveland Cavaliers, and has bounced back in a big way in Year 2. Last season, he wasn’t himself with a prior knee injury that cut his lone collegiate season at Vanderbilt short reportedly in the back of his mind still.

That was understandable for the young guard, but we’ve seen the real DG stand up this season, if you will. On the year, Garland has looked like a different animal, and has had 16.7 points and 5.9 assists per outing.

He’s hit a robust 40.0 percent of his three-point attempts as well, and the shiftiness from Garland has often been on display with him not having been limited much.

There have been some absences for Garland, and earlier on, a right shoulder injury was somewhat tougher for him it seemed, but Darius, even after a left hip strain heading into the All-Star break, appears near at full health now.

And while the Cavs themselves have had some unfortunate injury luck of late, as evidenced by Jarrett Allen (concussion) and Larry Nance Jr. (illness) unavailable in their more recent slate, which hasn’t helped, Garland himself has still looked comfortable, typically.

In that realm, the Cavaliers did have some tough losses this past week at the Utah Jazz and versus the Philadelphia 76ers, in particular. Albeit on another positive note, it was nice to have gotten back Matthew Dellavedova (concussion recovery/complications/appendectomy) and Kevin Love (right calf injury complications/soreness).

For Cleveland, though, they had been losers of five straight games heading into Monday’s game at the San Antonio Spurs, and that wasn’t necessarily one I was all that confident in, even while the Spurs have been on a downslide.

But the Wine and Gold had an outstanding game, all things considered, and Garland himself had a whale of an effort, and has been taking further strides.

Garland had a career game at the Spurs, and is showing relative ease at the controls for the Cavs.

Garland had a career-best 37 points on Monday versus the Spurs, and did so on 14-of-22 shooting, including going five-of-10 on deep ball attempts. The crazy part about that from DG is that he did so in just 30 minutes!

The young point man was all in his bag in that one, filling it up coming off of hesitations, getting into the lane both in settled offense and in secondary transition, and one thing that jumped out to me was how he getting more looks off of movement from deep.

Having the likes of Kevin Love and Matthew Dellavedova, even at times with Garland and even Collin Sexton with him aided Garland in that regard, and he was knocking down looks and was consistently in-rhyhtm as a deep shooter. How often Delly will end up playing in spurts with Garland is something we’ll have to see about, but in some matchups, it could be viable here and there, given his passing expertise/vision.

The Spurs, although defensively they’ve been struggling, were sliced up by DG throughout that one, and he was uber-efficient in getting his buckets, as we hit on.

Seeing this sort of hesitation/change of pace stuff from Garland just reiterates to me how on-ball, things seem to be slowing down for him in relation to how he’s processing things/how he’s been able to take advantage of favorable matchups more as of late. Hopefully going forward, we see this sort of assertiveness from Darius for stretches of games, too.

Garland’s poise/approach on this triple on short clock after an awesome sequence initiated by a hockey assist first from Sexton illustrated some of that for Garland as his season’s progressed/he’s gotten more aggressive, too. He ate up that late contest, and calmly sunk that deep ball, which was a key play/sequence for Cleveland to keep it rolling as well.

Along with the bucket-getting, Garland’s playmaking progression, as has often been shown throughout the season, was on display at the Spurs, too. He had seven assists and only one turnover. Granted, the Spurs’ lack of pressure was odd in that one, even without Dejounte Murray (foot soreness) available, and them having two overtime losses of late, but give DG his credit.

He and Isaiah Hartenstein, especially, have seemed to establish a nice two-man game, and that was demonstrated on Monday also. This was a well-timed delivery here to the young big, who did a nice job in this one as well, with 16 points on seven-of-eight shooting, 12 rebounds, three assists and a block in 27 minutes.

Garland showed, as has been the case as a playmaker on many occasions, ease at the controls for Cleveland in a general sense, in getting a roller in Hartenstein involved, and he was doing a terrific job of finding ways to get other guys quality looks, too. Wings such as Taurean Prince and Isaac Okoro benefited in that realm, for instance.

Moreover, while there still is room for growth for the 21-year-old Garland as a young lead guard, and I’d still like to see him get himself going more for stretches of games, to some extent, given his talent level/shot creation capabilities, he is really figuring it out.

Next. Early impressions of Hartenstein with the Cavs. dark

It’s been really encouraging to see him at ease, to a large extent realistically, at the controls for the Cavs.