The Cleveland Cavaliers are back in action tonight against the moribund Detroit Pistons. Given that the Cavs just knocked off the LA Clippers and are winners of 10 of their last 11 games, this would be an easy game to overlook. Given that the Pistons just beat the West-leading Oklahoma City Thunder, however, they should take a bit more care before automatically notching the victory.
Monday's win against the Clippers was notable not simply for the win over a contending team, but also because Evan Mobley return from a six-week absence. He played 21 minutes and moved well, and his return is a boon for a team looking to make noise in the Eastern Conference.
Could the Cavs be getting back another key player tonight?
Will Darius Garland play tonight?
While the official injury report is yet to be updated, the word on the streets is that All-Star point guard Darius Garland is EXPECTED TO PLAY tonight against the Detroit Pistons, making the Cavaliers' core lineup whole for the first time in months. This was first reported by Cleveland.com's Chris Fedor but more popularly confirmed by The Athletic's Shams Charania:
Garland broke his jaw against the Boston Celtics on December 14th and has missed the intervening six weeks. His jaw was literally wired shut for a month and he couldn't get his heart-rate too high or even eat solid foods. He has diligently worked his way back to game readiness over the past couple of weeks, the final screws have been removed and he looks on track to return to the lineup tonight.
Garland injury history
Darius Garland is unfortunately no stranger to injuries, as they have continued to crop up during his young career. Most famously and painfully, Garland missed nearly all of his freshman season at Vanderbilt University due to a knee injury. He has since missed time with groin, ankle, neck and back injuries. He suffered an eye injury in the season opener last season that kept him out for a couple of weeks, then a hamstring injury knocked him out near the start of this season for a time.
The most games that Garland has played in his five-year career is 69, and he has only played in 20 games this season.
Other Cavs injuries
Thankfully for the Cavaliers, they are nearly whole after Mobley's return and Ricky Rubio's retirement. Ty Jerome remains out after undergoing ankle surgery earlier this month, and Tristan Thompson is still out serving his suspension for illegal substance use.
Pistons injury report
The Detroit Pistons have dealt with a number of injuries themselves over the past few months, but they have a good shot at facing the Cavaliers with a lineup nearly intact. Cade Cunningham, the playmaking wing who went No. 1 ahead of Evan Mobley in the 2021 NBA Draft, is listed as probable to play tonight vs Cleveland.
The only rotation player expected to miss the game is Isaiah Stewart, a burly center with a surprising amount of skill who has been forced to play power forward given Detroit's glut of bigs. He is dealing with an ankle injury suffered in Detroit's big win over the Thunder on Sunday.
Assuming that Cade Cunningham does play tonight, the Detroit Pistons are likely to start Cade Cunningham, Jaden Ivey, Bojan Bogdanovic, Jaren Duren and Kevin Knox, the latter taking Stewart's place in the lineup.
The Cleveland Cavaliers will most likely go back to their original starting lineup, with Darius Garland replacing Isaac Okoro in the starting lineup and joining Donovan Mitchell, Max Strus, Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen on the top line. Expect Okoro, Caris LeVert and Dean Wade to come off the bench, with Sam Merrill and Georges Niang next up