Why the Cleveland Cavaliers can win the NBA Finals this season

Darius Garland (#10) celebrates with his Cleveland Cavaliers teammates. (Photo by Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports)
Darius Garland (#10) celebrates with his Cleveland Cavaliers teammates. (Photo by Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports) /
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Darius Garland, Cleveland Cavaliers. Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images /

The rise of Darius Garland

Speaking of Darius Garland, how great has he been this season? I mean, I expected him to take a leap, but I’d be lying if I said I saw an All-Star-caliber season in his future this soon at the season’s outset.

So far this season, Garland is averaging 19.7 points per game while shooting 46.7 percent from the field, which is fifth among point guards in the NBA. He’s also one of the NBA’s best passers, averaging 8.2 assists per game, which is good for sixth in the NBA.

As of late, the 3-year guard has been playing even better. Since missing four games due to health and safety protocols, Garland has averaged 20.1 points per game and 10.5 assists per game while shooting 43.9 percent from the field.

He’s established himself as not only the floor general and facilitator that we knew he could be, but the teams best scoring threat following the absence of Sexton. Garland has averaged 20.8 points while upping his touches per game to 87.5 since Nov. 10, per Second Spectrum’s tracking data.

More importantly, the team has been winning when Darius Garland is at the helm. The Cavs have a record of 28-15 when Garland is on the court and are 2-4 when he’s been out. Of course, the team would absolutely be in better shape if Sexton and Rubio were healthy. But they aren’t and the team is still winning. I can’t help but attribute a lot of the success to Darius Garland and his accelerated growth.

Taking over in the fourth quarter and closing out games is a key trait needed in the postseason, especially for a point guard trying to put their team over the top. Teammate and former NBA champion Rajon Rondo praised Garland’s ability to put a game away, via Serena Winters of Bally Sports Ohio.

Garland in one of six players to average at least 4.4 points in the 4th quarter while dishing out at least 1.7 assists. The other players include LeBron James, Chris Paul, James Harden, LaMelo Ball and Dejounte Murray.

The 22-year-old has clearly taken advantage of the usage increase and has even gotten some All-Star praise from the NBA on TNT crew and Stephen A. Smith of ESPN. Garland himself isn’t focused on the potential bid, though, as relayed by reporter Evan Dammarell of Fear The Sword and Right Down Euclid.

It would be awesome for Darius Garland to make his All-Star debut in Cleveland, but it’s not what he’s focusing on the moment. For a 22-year-old guard in their third season, he sure does sound mature. This is the type of mindset an NBA championship contender should have. Especially coming from their point guard and leader. He means business. Everyone else should too.