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NBA Rumors: Cavs Concerned Darius Garland to Miss Time After Thumb Injury vs. Pacers

Erin WalshDecember 30, 2022

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - DECEMBER 29: Darius Garland #10 of the Cleveland Cavaliers reacts after being injured in the fourth quarter against the Indiana Pacers at Gainbridge Fieldhouse on December 29, 2022 in Indianapolis, Indiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
Dylan Buell/Getty Images

The Cleveland Cavaliers are concerned that point guard Darius Garland could miss some time after suffering a thumb injury late in Thursday's 135-126 loss to the Indiana Pacers, according to Cleveland.com's Chris Fedor.

Garland sustained the injury in the fourth quarter after getting hit on the right hand by Indiana's Oshae Brissett while driving to the paint. He immediately grabbed his thumb before falling to the court in pain.

Garland, in obvious pain, remained in the game before head coach J.B. Bickerstaff called a timeout so he could get his thumb examined. He returned several minutes later with his thumb wrapped, though he didn't attempt a single shot after returning.

Garland is expected to undergo further testing to determine the extent of the injury. After the game, he said his thumb was "bothering" him:

"I was just trying to go out there and compete as much as I could. The last two free throws, I looked at J.B. and I was like, 'Ah, I really don't want to shoot these.' But I got fouled and just tried to make two. They didn't go in. Everything hurt. I was playing with a wrapped thumb. I couldn't really do anything. I wasn't going to be effective with that. It was already throbbing and swollen at that point."

Garland has been taking shots all season, and the Cavaliers "believe the increased physicality is purposeful—a result of opponents determining that's the only method to slow the shifty, crafty and quick guard," Fedor wrote.

Garland discussed the physicality against him further following Thursday's loss:

"Just getting hacked all season. Nothing has changed. The physicality isn't a factor at all. It's the whistle not being blown at the right time when it's a foul, an obvious foul. Some of this stuff we should be reviewing."

During Cleveland's season-opening loss to the Toronto Raptors on Oct. 19, Garland suffered an eye injury that knocked him out of the team's next five games. Raptors guard Gary Trent Jr. accidentally whacked Garland across the eye, and he suffered a vision-impacting laceration to his eyelid.

The 6-foot-1 point guard has gotten hit in the face so many times this season that he has suggested the team get him a mask or goggles "because it's getting out of hand."

"I'm just tired of getting hit in my face. But I like the aggressive defenses. It's kind of a statement to me and my game," Garland said, per Fedor. "It's super cool that people are just trying to tighten up their shoelaces for me."

Garland eventually returned to the court for a Nov. 2 win over the Boston Celtics, but sat out the next game with a sprained left knee. He has played every game since returning from that knee ailment in a Nov. 6 win over the Los Angeles Lakers.

The 22-year-old has emerged as a significant contributor for the Cavaliers on offense, and losing him for any period of time won't be good for Cleveland, which is mired in a three-game losing streak.

Through 30 games this season, Garland is averaging 21.3 points, 2.6 rebounds, 7.8 assists and 1.3 steals while shooting 45 percent from the floor and 40 percent from deep. If he misses time moving forward, Caris LeVert and Raul Neto would be in line to see more playing time alongside Donovan Mitchell

Cleveland is fourth in the Eastern Conference with a 22-14 record, four games behind the first-place Celtics. The Cavs are back in action on Saturday against the Chicago Bulls.