Cleveland (AP) – For the first time in more than six weeks, the Cleveland Cavaliers are nearly done.
Point guard Darius Garland, who broke his jaw in Boston on Dec. 14, is expected to return to action Wednesday night against the Detroit Pistons.
Garland's arrival is another boost for the Cavs, who have played their best ball this season despite being without 24-year-old Evan Mobley (knee surgery) for nearly two months.
The Cavs went 14-4 without two starters and have won 10 of 11 to move within 2 1/2 games of Milwaukee for 2nd overall in the Eastern Conference. Mobley returned in Monday night's win over the Los Angeles Clippers.
Cleveland has gone 15-4 since Dec. 16, a day after the team announced that both Garland and Mobley were out indefinitely.
„From a talent standpoint they outclassed us,” forward Georges Niang said after the shootaround. „They are a huge key to our success. Yes, we survived with them, but we are very happy to have them back in the lineup.
Now in his fifth season, Garland is averaging 20.7 points and 5.9 assists in 20 games.
Garland broke his jaw on a run-of-the-mill play. On his way to the basket, Garland crashed the right side of his face into Celtics center Kristin Porzingis and suffered a fracture that required surgery.
Garland's jaw was wired shut for a month, restricting him to a liquid diet. Over the past two weeks, he has been able to build strength and lose the weight he lost during his recovery.
Like Mobley, Garland's minutes will be limited when he returns. After facing the Pistons, the Cavs will play at Memphis on Thursday and San Antonio on Saturday.
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