Darius Garland started the 2023-24 campaign off the mark. After a career-high 41 percent from deep last season, Garland has only connected on roughly 30 percent of his 3-point attempts this year. Additionally, Garland is recording his worst assist-to-turnover ratio of his career, averaging 5.7 assists and 4.9 turnovers per game.
His early injury struggles have undoubtedly contributed to his sluggish start, but he is beginning to rediscover his game over the past week. On the road against the Golden State Warriors, Garland’s 19 points and 60 percent 3-point shooting lifted the Cavs to their first regular season series sweep against the Warriors since the 2009-10 season.
Turnovers are still an issue for Garland, but he is finding his rhythm over time. Once the Cavaliers can get healthy, Garland’s efficiency is bound to return to normal. For now, though, Garland’s improvements in the last few games is worth noting. He has led the team to their last two wins without his backcourt partner-in-crime Donovan Mitchell.
Since returning from an ankle bruise that sidelined him throughout the preseason and first few regular season contests, Jarrett Allen has helped the Cleveland Cavaliers battle back from their early losses.
Jarrett Allen is known for his interior defense, but very few players have found a way to stop two-time MVP and 2023 NBA champion Nikola Jokic from doing whatever he wants on the basketball court. In Cleveland, though, Jokic had his worst game of the season. Held to only 18 points and falling into foul trouble, Jokic could not lift his team above a determined Cavaliers squad.
With his tough defense, Allen ended the night with a dazzling +42 plus-minus, even though his box score numbers were far from jaw dropping. Allen accepted the challenge and forced Jokic into more than enough mistakes on the night. Managing to beat the reigning NBA champions without your best player is a tremendous feat on its own, but Allen’s defense and physicality gave the Cavaliers the momentum to reach a season-high 26-point advantage in the fourth quarter.
Additionally, Allen and Evan Mobley were a ferocious tandem on offense. Two of Mobley’s five assists came from tossing Allen a lob pass in the paint. Allen did a little bit of everything this week and capped it off with his best game in recent memory.
Following their two-game homestand, the Cleveland Cavaliers will visit the reigning MVP Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday for their third In-Season Tournament Group Stage contest.