Darius Garland expresses how Cavs are becoming increasingly confident

Darius Garland, Cleveland Cavaliers. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Darius Garland, Cleveland Cavaliers. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /

Heading into the season, I never would’ve thought the Cleveland Cavaliers would be 14-12 at this juncture. The Cavaliers are currently there, though, and with the injuries they’ve endured, and absences because of illness/COVID-19 protocols, that’s all the more impressive. Of course, not having Collin Sexton for the remainder of the season still hurts, but the team has hung in there.

The Cavs have had one of the league’s toughest schedules to this point, and eight of their first 11 games were on the road. Also, for further context, 26 games into the 2021-22 season, the Cavaliers have had the toughest strength of schedule so far, according to ESPN.

Even with that having been the case, Cleveland has held steady, and they’ve been in virtually every contest thus far, which for still a relatively young team, I don’t discount. After a tough, one-point loss to the Utah Jazz on Sunday, and the team hung around in Monday’s L to the Milwaukee Bucks, the Cavaliers had a convincing W over the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday, which was their 10th win this season over .500-plus teams.

And Darius Garland‘s comments following that win hit on how the team’s “confidence” is ever-growing, and that’s nice to know for a squad that’s turning a corner.

Garland expressed how the Cavs are becoming increasingly confident.

As Garland’s postgame comments above, via the Cavs, illustrate, the Wine and Gold have found ways to weather this early-season storm, regarding the schedule, and this club’s resilience has been admirable. The Tower City duo of Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen in the frontcourt has been instrumental, for one, and since Mobley’s return from a four-game absence (elbow sprain), the club has won five of seven outings.

Now, in fairness, Cleveland’s last win over Chicago was against a Bulls team that was without DeMar DeRozan (COVID-19 health and safety protocols) and Alex Caruso (hamstring injury), and that clearly didn’t help the Bulls’ efforts. Chicago was also down Javonte Green to protocols, who is a talented defender in his own right, and diddo for Coby White, a talented scoring reserve. White’s role is a bit uncertain this season, objectively, though.

But even with the circumstances involved with that W over Chicago, it’s not like the Cavs haven’t held their own and proven to be viable against quality opponents, however. We discussed how the Cavaliers have had arguably the league’s toughest schedule to this point, and they haven’t blinked.

The aforementioned Garland has stepped up throughout the season, and while there have been some bumps in the road with him having to take on more of a scoring role at times with Sexton out, he’s taking the leap many thought he would heading into the season. Garland’s had 19.5 points and 7.2 assists per outing on the year, and even with an increase in three-point attempts, he has connected on still 39.2 percent from three.

Related Story. This is becoming a staple for Garland this season. light

Additionally, the leadership and play of Ricky Rubio has also been a key reason for the success of the Cavaliers, and he’s filled in in a supersub role really well. It’s not surprising that when he’s in games, it’s an injection of energy for the Wine and Gold, even with the veteran in his 11th and age-31 season.

And despite Rubio being an expiring player, I do believe it’d behoove Cleveland to try to extend him, albeit on a reasonable deal, as I still believe the Cavs should re-sign Collin Sexton next offseason, when he’s set to be a restricted free agent. We’ll have to see on both.

Moreover, with Lauri Markkanen and Kevin Love finding their rhythm as big-time shooters for Cleveland following extended protocols absences, in the starting unit for Markkanen, and as a reserve, in Love’s case, this team looks to be right in the thick of things. I don’t discount what Cedi Osman, in a defined bench shooter role this season, has been doing, either, although I do expect some rough patches with him.

Next. Love's green light off bench is paying off; has found rhythm. dark

Regardless, the Cavs currently are the #7 team in the Eastern Conference, and with how they’ve been playing defensively throughout the season, and the team gaining more confidence, as Garland hit on, they look to have staying power. Hopefully the squad gets a W at the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday night.