Cleveland Cavaliers’ building blocks Darius Garland and Evan Mobley form ‘dynamic’ mating

CLEVELAND, Ohio – Darius Garland slipped around on Evan Mobley’s off-ball screen and took a pass from Ricky Rubio before darting toward the court. With a step on his defender, Garland forced Isaiah Stewart to come and compete in what appeared to be one of Garland’s patented floats. Instead, Garland rose and turned a lob behind his head to Mobley for a rumbling two-handed thump.

The riveting Garland-Mobley connection is beginning to blossom. It’s a look into the future of the Cleveland Cavaliers, which looks brighter every day.

“They’re dynamic together,” Cavs coach JB Bickerstaff said after the 98-78 victory over the Detroit Pistons. ‘They put a threat on the floor where it is two-sided and it is in a lot of space. Teams can not really pick their poison in it. Both are such good playmakers that you have a difficult decision to make. “

At the shootaround early Friday morning, Garland and Mobley worked on the same sets, practicing smooth passes and trying to get the timing down on their lob. The two are getting closer. Friends off the field go to dinner on the road and often hang out and talk to each other all day. At intervals of only one year, they speak the same language and have common interests. Most of their conversations are not about basketball.

It’s early in this partnership. But the signs are promising. The chemistry carries over to the court.

“I enjoy it a lot,” Mobley said of playing with Garland. “We always know where each other is on the floor. He knows where I want the ball and so vice versa. I feel like every game we keep getting better. He also does a great job of throwing lobs. It ran today, it was tough. “

That connection in the first half was one of two at night. The second came early in the third quarter – a similar act. Garland took the pass from Mobley and walked around Jarrett Allen’s left elbow shield while Mobley snuck into the dunker spot. As Garland dribbled to the nail, he noticed several Pistons defenders shadowy against him and Allen, boldly sending a pass from nearly 20 feet away to a soaring Mobley.

Garland said it’s “super fun” to play with number 3 – and all the other big ones. There is also an obvious bond between Garland and Allen. They create their share of highlights. But no Cavaliers duo have played more minutes together than Garland and Mobley. It’s by design. In recent games, Bickerstaff has even matched their playing time, subb them in and out at similar times. On Friday, they amounted to 35 minutes each. Thirty-one of them were together.

Nearly two hours before the tipoff against the Pistons, Bickerstaff reiterated the importance of finding workable combinations.

He has a. In the coming years.

Garland is 21 years old. He’s in his third season. Mobley is only 20. Both are part of this ever-evolving Cleveland core that is expected to lead a renaissance. Imagine the possibilities.

In 291 minutes, Garland and Mobley surpass opponents with 6.8 points per game. 100 ball possessions. They were a team-best plus-31 while sharing the pitch versus Detroit.

Of Mobley’s 59 assisted field goals this season, Garland has distributed nearly half. It also works the other way. No one has created Garland more than Mobley. Not even veteran’s sixth man Ricky Rubio. A devastating duo, Garland and Mobley, are already bringing out the best in each other – and this is just the beginning.

“We’re starting to jell a little more,” Garland said. “It’s starting to get fun.”

Garland got off to a slow start in what was expected to be his breakthrough season. But the leap happens. He has taken command of the offense. He has found his voice as one of the team leaders. He makes the right readings in pick-and-roll. He has improved defensively and accepted the challenge against some of the NBA’s best point guards. The Cavs keep encouraging him to be more of a “hunter” on the offensive – even if it doesn’t come naturally.

“He’s a facilitator by nature. He’s a playmaker by nature. That’s why people love to play with him because he brings people in by sharing and making it easier,” Bickerstaff said recently. selfless player, and then you have to turn that switch to being a hunter, it goes a little against your instincts. He’s not the first guy to go through it, but you can see why his teammates appeal to him because he does a great job of involving everyone and making them feel a part of it. That’s his nature. It’s just a little uncomfortable when people tell you to do things that can be considered selfish. ”

Garland has an average of the team’s best 16.3 points at 48.9% from the field and 42.0% from the 3-point row left with 7.2 assists, 2.2 rebounds and 1.3 steals. He has the team’s best plus-minus, and surpasses opponents with an average of 5.3 points. His on-off differential is striking. In 334 minutes with Garland on the field, the Cavs have a surgical offensive rating of 113.7. Without him, it is negligible 100.6.

This is what Cleveland had always imagined with Garland. But to get the most out of his pick-and-roll sorcery, the front office had to find him the right partner.

Tristan Thompson. John Henson. Ante Zizic. Andre Drummond. Larry Nance Jr. None of them were. Not long term at least. Allen and Mobley look that part. Especially Mobley, the rookie who plays beyond his years and has aroused hope for the franchise. A source said several coaches have recently expressed jealousy of Bickerstaff over being coached as the Rookie of the Year frontrunner, averaging 15.3 points, 7.8 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1, 4 blocks and 1.0 steals.

Bickerstaff has guided countless talented young people. No one like Mobley.

“I do not know if I have seen it, to be honest with you, or been around it. That’s so rare, ”Bickerstaff said when asked about Mobley’s influence on winning. “Usually young guys are so preoccupied with figuring out the game themselves that they have a hard time influencing the win. I do not get myself ahead here, but he has shown these first matches that it is the influence he can have. Because one, his skills, but two, his intent. He does not care about anything else. There is no agenda, there is no motive. His only focus is how do I help the Cleveland Cavaliers win basketball games? He just goes out and does it. When you play the game with that purity of heart and then throw his skills on top of it and intellect, you have a guy who influences victory. He can do it in so many different ways. Any given night he can help you in any manner.”

The Cavs have had their best start in five seasons. There is a growing belief that they can maintain this level of performance, avoid the crummy team trap game and win for a return win on Friday.

Garland and Mobley are two reasons for that. It looks like the Cavs have the gem of the 2021 draft class – and a new point guard who can grow with him for years to come.

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