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Cavaliers' Darius Garland, Caris LeVert Out vs. Pistons with Back, Foot Injuries

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVFebruary 24, 2022

Nic Antaya/Getty Images

Cleveland Cavaliers guards Darius Garland (lower back soreness) and Caris LeVert (right foot sprain) will miss Thursday's game against the Detroit Pistons.

Garland, 22, is enjoying a breakout season for the Cavs, averaging career highs in points (20.3 PPG), assists (8.0 APG) and field-goal percentage (47.7 percent) while shooting a solid 37.8 percent from three.

That earned him an All-Star spot.

LeVert, Cleveland's biggest addition prior to the NBA trade deadline, has averaged 13.3 points and 3.8 assists in his first four games with the Cavaliers.

Garland's continued growth in his third year, alongside the development of Jarrett Allen; Evan Mobley's excellent rookie season; and a solid supporting cast of veterans, has Cleveland pushing for a playoff berth.

Not too shabby for a team that finished 22-50 a season ago. In many ways, the Cavs feel like this year's version of the Atlanta Hawks, who took a major leap last season behind Trae Young and reached the Eastern Conference Finals.

"We're getting some wins so we're putting the league on notice," Garland told reporters in January. "We have a target on our back now, so a lot of teams are trying to come at us and get wins off us. We definitely have a target on our back. On the radar. One of the top teams in the league and one of the top teams in the East. We're definitely getting more attention."

Losing Garland for any period of time, then, is a major blow for those postseason aspirations. A back injury cost Garland four games in early February, though he's largely remained healthy this season.

Being without Garland and LeVert both is a bit of a double whammy because the latter was acquired with the idea of easing the scoring and playmaking burden on the former. Now, the Cavs will lean heavily on Rajon Rondo at the point and Cedi Osman on the wing Thursday.

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