3 Cavaliers players who should be playing more ahead of playoffs

Houston Rockets v Cleveland Cavaliers
Houston Rockets v Cleveland Cavaliers / Jason Miller/GettyImages
1 of 4

With fewer than 20 games left in the 2023-24 regular season, the Cleveland Cavaliers are beginning to solidify their best rotation players and lineups for the coming postseason campaign.

Finding these players and lineups has been halted by seemingly endless injuries. The Cavaliers have yet to stay consistently healthy this season. Since Darius Garland and Evan Mobley returned from prolonged injuries, the available Cavs are still rotating night-to-night. Most recently, Donovan Mitchell and Max Strus (who until this point had played every game this season) have been on the injury list for a handful of games with knee injuries.

Over the 19-game stretch without Garland and Mobley together, the Cavs led the NBA with a 15-4 record and 10.8 net rating. Though Donovan Mitchell and Jarrett Allen led the way and set a standard of excellence in this time, Cleveland's bench shocked the Association with unexpected versatility and production.

The Cavaliers have found something in their depth

While the injury-riddled Cavaliers are without their best players, it has opened up the door for surprise contributors who might be critical in the team's playoff efforts this year. Sam Merrill set numerous career highs with Cleveland, emerging as a flamethrower from deep off the Cavs bench. After bouncing between the NBA and G-League for a few years, Merrill became the best shooter on the team and one of the best shooters in the entire league. His tireless off-ball movement to find an open shot helped the Cavs win multiple times when the odds were stacked against them.

Craig Porter, Jr. also provided the Cavaliers faithful with plenty of memorable performances, earning a standard contract after joining the team as an undrafted rookie on a two-way deal. Although Porter fell out of the rotation again once Garland returned, his defensive intensity on the perimeter and crafty playmaking filled part of the void that the Cavaliers lost without Garland, Ricky Rubio or Ty Jerome.

Not every player who made the most of their opportunities throughout the season will find consistent minutes in the playoffs, but the Cavaliers will surely look to their bench for valuable production in the playoffs. Once the team can get healthy and find their rhythm, the Cavs cannot afford to forget about three players who could be pivotal in the final stretch of the regular season.