The hits keep on coming for the Cleveland Cavaliers, Darius Garland has now entered the NBA’s COVID protocols.
Cleveland Cavaliers guard Darius Garland — one of the season's revelations — has entered into Covid protocols, sources tell ESPN.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) December 28, 2021
Over the last handful of weeks, Cleveland has dealt with over eight different players entering the associations’ health and safety protocols. Impact players like Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley have already missed extended time due to the NBA’s protocols. Perhaps the Cavaliers’ most vital player will be out for several games. The value of Garland — who could be on track for an All-Star appearance — this season cannot be overstated. The third-year guard is averaging 19.5 points while dishing out over seven assists per game. Garland has been the key cog in the Wine and Gold’s offense this season; Cleveland could stumble without the emerging star.
The Cavs will need others to step up in Garland’s absence
Clearly, replacing Garland’s production is easier said than done. How will the Cavaliers replace a playmaking lead guard like Garland who can put constant pressure on opposing defenses thanks to his lethal shooting and ability to make plays for others? The value of Ricky Rubio will now come into the forefront for the Cavs.
The veteran point guard has enjoyed much success in his first year in Cleveland. Coming off the bench, Rubio has totaled over 12 points and six assists per game. He has certainly shown the ability to make plays for others, similar to Garland’s skillset. Now, Rubio will be thrust into a starting point guard role with Garland entering COVID protocols. Can Rubio produce at the same level as Garland? More than likely, no. The Vanderbilt product Garland has played at an All-Star level after all. However, the Cavaliers can still experience success with Rubio manning the point guard spot.
Rubio can help Cleveland win with reinforcements on the way
The Spaniard guard has been a quality backup guard this season, something Cleveland simply did not have last season. The Cavaliers are now in a bind, but Rubio is capable of playing well enough to keep them afloat until Garland’s return. Heck, Rubio could even lead Cleveland to a winning streak if he plays to his potential. Plus, the Cavs will have help on the way in the coming week.
The outstanding rookie Mobley will be back sooner rather than later, returning from COVID protocols.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) December 28, 2021
In addition, the potential All-Star center Allen will return within the next week or so. Other important pieces like Isaac Okoro and Cedi Osman should be able to return from health and safety protocols before Garland as well. As Cleveland continues to deal with a COVID outbreak, reinforcements are on the way. Once Garland returns, the Cavs should finally be back to a nearly full roster.
In the meantime, Rubio will attempt to replicate Garland’s level of play. Cleveland has an upcoming favorable schedule too, which will make this challenging path easier. The way this season has gone for the Cavs, they will likely continue to win even without Garland. J.B. Bickerstaff (the Cavaliers’ Head Coach) is beginning to piece together a winning culture in the Cavs. The absence of Garland is definitely a big blow, but Cleveland can manage to win games with weak opponents awaiting.
Featured image courtesy of Al Bello/Getty Images
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