2 big questions Cleveland Cavaliers have to answer with stars returning from injury

Charlotte Hornets v Cleveland Cavaliers
Charlotte Hornets v Cleveland Cavaliers / Jason Miller/GettyImages
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The wait is finally over as the Cleveland Cavaliers welcome back Darius Garland and Evan Mobley to the lineup after six weeks without two core stars.

If the Cavaliers threw in the towel on December 15, it would be difficult to find many that would ridicule them for it. With an inconsistent 13-12 start to the season, the news that both Garland and Mobley would miss at least a month with injuries seemed like a swan song for Cleveland's playoff hopes. Instead, head coach J.B. Bickerstaff reinvented the team's offensive flow overnight and led them to a 14-4 record without either star.

Cleveland ranked second in three-pointers attempted over those 18 games and regained their defensive dominance, sitting second in the NBA with a 110.7 defensive rating for the season. The two teams ahead of the Cavs in the respective categories are the Boston Celtics and Minnesota Timberwolves, the top team in each conference. The Cavaliers are in elite company and competing with the best of them with both stars returning at the perfect time.

Upon Evan Mobley's return against the Los Angeles Clippers, the Cavs pulled out a 118-108 victory after defeating the Milwaukee Bucks two nights earlier. On a minutes restriction, Mobley scored 10 points and grabbed 9 rebounds in 21 minutes of play. Cleveland has not only handled rebuilding and bottom-feeding teams, but they have shown up when it counts. Mobley and Garland only introduce more utility for the second half of the regular season campaign.

For every strength Garland and Mobley bring to the rotation, there is a general unease around how both will adapt to the new-look systems. Some criticisms thrown at the Cavs center around the redundancy of two ball-dominant guards in the backcourt and two non-shooting big men in the frontcourt. The Cavaliers will have to answer these questions in the future, making February a crucial month for Bickerstaff.