The Cleveland Cavaliers could be getting back two key contributors soon.
ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported on Tuesday's NBA Countdown that rookie Evan Mobley "could be back as soon as Friday against Brooklyn" from his sprained ankle, while Jarrett Allen has a "very good chance to be back before the playoffs" as he recovers from a fractured finger.
Mobley, 20, last played March 28, while the 23-year-old Allen last played March 6.
Serena Winters @SerenaWinters
JB Bickerstaff said Evan Mobley (ankle sprain) is progressing well & did a lot of on-court work today. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Cavs?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Cavs</a> will have practice on Thursday & see how Evan responds on Friday. <br><br>While Jarrett Allen has been ruled out tonight, still a positive sign to see him w/ the squad in ORL.
"We're monitoring how much attention that finger is getting," Cavaliers head coach J.B. Bickerstaff told reporters Sunday regarding Allen. "Making sure that, if the time comes and hopefully when the time comes, it won't be a conditioning-fatigue-legs, issue. It's just a matter of the finger healing properly and giving him the best time to heal."
Without both in the lineup over the past two weeks, the Cavs have gone 1-3. Since Allen's injury, the Cavs have gone just 6-9, dropping to seventh in the Eastern Conference, with the play-in tournament looming.
It shouldn't come as a surprise, as Cleveland has struggled without its big men. The pair have combined to average 31.0 points, 19.1 rebounds and 2.9 blocks per game. That's a lot of production to replace.
The Cavaliers are playing with house money this season, to a certain degree. While there was no question the team had put together an impressive collection of young talent, led by the two big men and Darius Garland, its jump to potentially reaching the postseason feels a bit ahead of schedule.
That feels reminiscent of the Atlanta Hawks last season, a team that advanced all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals with a young core.
These Cavs will have to navigate the play-in tournament and an even deeper Eastern Conference to pull off a similar trick. Getting back the two anchors of one of the NBA's staunchest defenses—the Cavs have a defensive rating of 108.5 this season, fifth in the league, per NBA.com—will certainly help.
Until then, the Cavs are trying to put their best foot forward.
"We're trying to fight with the guys that we have right now," Caris LeVert told reporters Sunday. "We don't want to put any extra pressure or whatever on those guys. Those guys will be back when they're ready, when they're healthy. Regardless, we got to fight in their absence. We're doing the best we can right now to hold down the fort until they get back, whatever that is."