Will the real Darius Garland please stand up for the Cavs?

Darius Garland, Cleveland Cavaliers. (Photo by Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports)
Darius Garland, Cleveland Cavaliers. (Photo by Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports) /

This young Cleveland Cavaliers team has a little bit of everything. They have the superstar in Donovan Mitchell, a formidable frontcourt in Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen, and a nice mix of wing players in Caris LeVert, Isaac Okoro, Cedi Osman, and Danny Green. They have all the pieces to make a deep run in the playoffs this season, but the only proven playoff performer they have on the roster is Mitchell.

Last year’s squad got a small taste of the playoffs in the Play-In Tournament, but that barely counts as playoff basketball. The Cavs got in the kitchen, but they weren’t able to cook. This team has yet to be battle-tested in a true playoff series. Their success cannot live and die with Mitchell. They need more from their All-Star point guard Darius Garland. His aggression on offense is the X factor and his aggression needs to be turned up a notch if the Cavaliers want to achieve their goals.

The real Garland has to stand up for the Cavs for them to be at their best.

From a statistical perspective, Garland has the same numbers as last season, as he is averaging 21/3/8 on 46/41/86 shooting splits. With the arrival of Mitchell this season, Garland has had to become the Robin to Mitchell’s Batman. However, recently, Garland is more like Alfred than a true Robin.

Since Jan. 29, Garland is averaging 12.6 shot attempts per game. In games with Mitchell this season, Garland is averaging 20 points and 7 assists per game. In games without Mitchell, he is averaging 26 points per game and 9 assists.

While Garland is not used to being the second fiddle, he needs to channel the same aggression he has without Mitchell and use it when they are both on the court together. He needs to defer to Mitchell less.

Most of Mitchell’s playoff failings have been because he did not have a consistent second option next to him when it mattered the most. Garland needs to step into his All-Star shoes and provide Mitchell the help he needs in an intense playoff environment.

In the playoffs, teams’ strengths are taken away and weaknesses are exposed. Garland’s aggression cannot be one of the Cavaliers’ weaknesses. He needs to make his aggression one of the strengths of this team.

Teams are going to do whatever they can to slow down Mitchell and there may be nights when he will be smothered. Garland needs to take advantage of those situations and be aggressive and look for his shot, instead of differing. His dynamic playmaking, his crafty ball handling, and his ability to keep the defense off balance are amazing assets for the Cavs.

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If the Cavs want to compete with the likes of the Boston Celtics, Milwaukee Bucks, and Philadelphia 76ers, they need Garland to play at an All-Star level every night.