Dec 27, 2023 - Sports

Cavs Corner, Week 9: Bench mob!

The Cavs' Tristan Thompson, Damian Jones and Craig Porter, Jr. in black jerseys.

Did anyone expect these dudes to see minutes this season? Photo: Michael Reeves/Getty Images

The Cavs are sustaining so many injuries that they're beginning to resemble the Cleveland Browns.

Record: (17-13); Last week: (15-12).

Weekly slate: Win vs. Utah (124-116); Loss vs. New Orleans (123-104); Win at Chicago (109-95).

The big picture: When it rains, it pours. Darius Garland and Evan Mobley were already out with long-term injuries when Donovan Mitchell fell ill and missed all three games last week.

  • In the improbable Chicago win, the Cavs were also without sixth man Caris LeVert and deadeye shooter Sam Merrill, who injured his wrist during a career night against Utah.

Yes, but: Jarrett Allen, Max Strus and a mob of unheralded bench players have led the Cavs to four wins in their past five games.

👍 Weekly winner: Craig Porter Jr. The undrafted rookie guard has been thrust into the starting line-up due to injuries and looks like a veteran floor general.

  • In his past six outings, he has recorded 35 assists while committing only six turnovers.

ğŸ‘Ž Weekly loser: Mitchell. The scoring dynamo has now only played 22 of the team's first 30 games.

  • The NBA instituted a 65-game minimum to qualify for postseason awards this year, so he'll have to play at least 43 of the team's final 52 if he intends to earn All-NBA honors like he did last year.

Of note: Only Strus and Georges Niang have appeared in all 30 games this season.

  • The team's four leading scorers — Mitchell, Garland, Mobley and Caris LeVert — have appeared in 22, 20, 21 and 22, respectively.

📉 By the numbers: On Tuesday, the Detroit Pistons broke the NBA record for most consecutive losses (27), surpassing the miserable Cavs of 2010-2011, who lost 26 in a row in the first season after LeBron's Decision.

💭 Sam's thought bubble: A few days after highlighting Merrill, I attended the Utah game and got to see him erupt for a career-high 27 points.

What's next: Wednesday at Dallas; Friday vs. Milwaukee; Monday at Toronto.


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