One week before the end of the votes for the All-Star Game, the players and the franchises multiply the messages of support to influence the votes, and on the side of Cleveland, it is Darius Garland who is best placed to win his first star. Cleveland is the surprise team of the Eastern Conference, and it would not be surprising if the coaches rewarded this good first part of the season by sending a Cavalier to… Cleveland since the All-Star Game takes place this season in the ‘Ohio.
To put all his chances on his side, Garland has further raised his level of play, and after scoring his first career triple-double against the Kings, he continues with a big performance against the Spurs: 32 points and 8 assists. We will remember his 14 points scored in the last quarter. A quarter he played in its entirety.
Alone in the lead
“He loves this pressure and we tried to use our time-outs intelligently to give him a breather” explains JB Bickerstaff. “But when the match is decided, he wants to be on the pitch. It was a tight game the whole 4th quarter, and he didn’t want to come out. »
The Cavaliers point guard, already orphaned by Collin Sexton and Ricky Rubio, was deprived of Rajon Rondo last night, and he set an example on both sides of the field in a royal duel against Dejounte Murray.
“It’s another way for him to sacrifice himself for us” says Jarrett Allen. “He could have easily walked the ball up or defended sluggishly. But he gave it his all for 12 minutes. »
Author of 11 points and 4 assists in the first quarter with a 3 of 4 from 3-pointers, Garland also stood out with a “buzzer beater” in the 1st half from midfield! But no way to celebrate it…
“I knew he was going to come in the moment he left my hands, and when he came in I started running… The team wanted me to go to the bench, but I was like telling them: “Guys, it’s only half-time! Head to the changing rooms! We can celebrate that later. »
Cleveland regains its identity
And that’s what they will do with this third victory in a row, the 11th in fourteen matches despite the loss of Sexton and Rubio. ” This road-trip is pleasant because we found our identity” Allen believes. “After Ricky’s injury, we kind of wavered and I found that it was no longer our identity. For the past three or four games, we have started to relearn how to play Cavaliers basketball, to share the ball and to defend. »
This is what makes coach JB Bickerstaff proud, delighted that his group is able to remain united and successful.
“There is a bond in this group because they talk to each other and empower each other… They have the will to achieve this collectively. When it is like that, there is no fracture, no separation. Everyone comes together, fights and tries to get the job done. I think they do excellent work in this area. »
A selection to the All-Star Game would thus reward this group spirit, and Garland is undoubtedly the best placed.