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Cleveland Cavaliers power forward Evan Mobley and guard Darius Garland are headed to the injury list. The two starters will miss several weeks of action.
The Cavs (14-12) occupy eighth place in the Eastern Conference standings. The Cavs would be headed for the Play-In Tournament if the season ended today.
The Cavs went 51-31 last season and secured the #4 playoff seed, but the #5 New York Knicks eliminated them in the first round.
The Cavs entered this season with a projected win total of 50.5 over/under. After a sluggish start, oddsmakers adjusted their win total to 46.5 o/u.
Mobley Knee Injury: Opts for Surgery
Mobley was sidelined with a left knee injury in early December. His ailing knee hasn’t improved with rest, and he’s still experiencing discomfort. He’s undergoing arthroscopic surgery to remove a loose body from his left knee.
Mobley will miss six to eight weeks and hopes to return before the All-Star Break in February.
In 21 games this season, Mobley averaged 16.0 points and a career-high 10.5 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game. He also shot a career-best 57% from the floor.
The Cavs selected Mobley out of USC with the third-overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, setting him up for a promising rookie season. Scottie Barnes from the Toronto Raptors narrowly edged out Mobley in the 2022 NBA Rookie of the Year, voting in one of the closest races in the last decade.
Mobley is the third-best scorer on the Cavs. Head coach J.B. Bickerstaff will rely on forwards Dean Wade and Georges Niang to fill in for Mobley in the rotation. Niang averages 7.5 points and 3.8 rebounds per game off the bench. Wade has been starting in place of Mobley, but he only averages 4.8 points and 4.3 rebounds per game.
Guard Drama: Garland Out, ‘Spida’ Trade Rumor
Garland suffered a face injury on Thursday night in a loss against the Boston Celtics. X-rays revealed a fractured jaw. He will be evaluated in four weeks and could be out until February.
Garland started 22 games at shooting guard for the Cavs this season. He’s the second-best scorer on the team, averaging 20.7 points and 5.9 assists per game.
The Cavs selected Vanderbilt’s Garland with the #5 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. He averaged 21.6 points per game for the Cavs in the previous two seasons.
The Cavs will rely on Max Strus (13.6 ppg), Caris LeVert (15.2 ppg), and Sam Merrill (3.7 ppg) to fill in for Garland at shooting guard.
Meanwhile, point guard Donovan “Spida” Mitchell isn’t happy in Cleveland and could get traded for the second time since last summer. The Utah Jazz traded Mitchell to the Cavs before the start of last season when they outbid the New York Knicks.
The next month of the season without Garland and Mobley could determine Mitchell’s future in Cleveland. If the Cavs slide out of playoff contention, they could deal Mitchell at the trade deadline in February.
The Knicks, Brooklyn Nets, and Miami Heat have all been linked to Mitchell in different trade rumors.
Cavs on the Futures Market
The Cavs occupy third place in the Central Division behind the Milwaukee Bucks (19-7) and the upstart Indiana Pacers (13-11), who recently lost in the NBA Cup Finals in Las Vegas. The Bucks are the betting favorite to win a sixth-straight division title at -750 odds. The Cavs are second on the board at +700 odds, followed by the Pacers (+1000).
The Chicago Bulls (10-17) are on the verge of breaking up their team on the trade market, and they’re a divisional long shot at +30000 odds. The Detroit Pistons (2-24) are in the middle of a losing streak, having lost a franchise-record 23 games in a row. The Pistons are the worst team in the NBA this season, and they’re an astronomical long shot to win the division at +100000 odds.
The Cavs haven’t won the Central Division since LeBron James signed with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2018.
The injuries to Mobley and Garland directly affected the NBA futures market. As of Monday morning, the Cavs saw their odds to win the 2023-24 NBA Championship move from +3500 to +4500. They’re also the fifth team on DraftKings’ futures board at +1600 odds to win the Eastern Conference.
The Cavs host the Houston Rockets (13-10) on Monday night in Cleveland. The Rockets are the second-best betting team in the NBA this season, with a 15-6-2 record against the point spread. The Cavs have an 11-13-2 ATS record.
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