DETROIT – The Cleveland Cavaliers may be without a few rotating key players when they open a five-game wild ride Friday night against the Detroit Pistons.
All-star guards Darius Garland and Donovan Mitchell are both listed as suspect, as they sustained injuries during the Cleveland’s hard-fought 114-113 win over the Boston Celtics on Wednesday night. Backup point guard Raul Neto bears the same sign of questionable injury while injured striker Dylan Wendler will not play much due to recurring ankle soreness.
Garland, who returned Wednesday from a two-week absence with a severe eye injury, twisted his left knee in the second half against the Celtics while trying to chase a loose ball near the Boston bench. The play led to Garland diving into a row of camera operators and limping afterward. But Garland shrugged off the pain and played through the injury and finished the match. The Cavs team calls it a sprain.
According to a source who spoke to cleveland.com, the infection is not believed to be a long-term concern, but more information is likely to be known on Friday. Garland underwent treatment Thursday before the Caves left for Detroit. He is expected to undergo treatment again Friday morning. If his knee responds well and eases, Garland could play in Friday’s game. The Cavs will conduct their shooting Friday morning at Little Caesars Arena in downtown Detroit.
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As for Mitchell, the All-Star triple injured his left ankle late in the first half after a hard landing on a pass. Mitchell preferred his sore left ankle to some property and limped into the locker room in the first half. But he showed no signs of slowing down due to injury in the second half, scoring 15 of his 25 points. After the match, cleveland.com saw Mitchell slowly and cautiously walk around the locker room.
Garland played 42 minutes in Wednesday’s win, scoring 29 points with 12 assists. Mitchell scored 44 minutes. Wednesday was also Cleveland’s third overtime game of the season.
Neto injured his ankle over the weekend and did not play against the Celtics. Windler has not appeared in any game this season. He suffered what was considered a minor ankle injury in practice on October 4 – the day before Cleveland’s season opener. Windler did group training and was active for the first time on Wednesday. But sources say Wendler was sore Thursday morning and could miss several games on the trip.
Cleveland appears to have crossed the corner on the front injured by Garland’s long-awaited comeback. It was the first time that CAFs coach GB Bickerstaff took an extended look at his expected starting line-up.
But he may have to switch that spin again. It’s not good timing either. The Cavs are scheduled to play five games in eight days during their longest road trip yet and they need as many healthy bodies as possible to get through this exhausting stretch.
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