Garland and LeVert injured as Cavs return from break

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    CLEVELAND (TSWT) — The Cavaliers are coming back from the All-Star break at less than full strength.

    All-Star guard Darius Garland will miss Cleveland’s Thursday night game in Detroit with a back problem that has slowed him down for weeks while newly acquired guard Caris LeVert is sidelined with a sprained right foot.

    Garland missed five games with lower back pain before last week’s All-Star stoppage. The 22-year-old was involved in All-Star Weekend activities, scoring 13 points in Team LeBron’s win on Sunday.

    Cavs coach JB Bickerstaff said nothing about Garland or LeVert’s status after practice Wednesday.

    The Cavs have struggled with injuries all season — leading scorer Collin Sexton and guard Ricky Rubio were lost for the year with knee injuries — and are currently fourth in the Eastern Conference at 35-23.

    LeVert has played four games since being traded to Indiana by the Cavs before the TSWT, averaging 13.3 points and 3.8 assists.

    He made a debut with Cleveland and Bickerstaff toyed with the idea of ​​having LeVert in his opening lineup. He’s also looking to figure out how the 6-foot-6 scorer best fits into Cleveland’s offensive patterns.

    “We sat down and had conversations about where he’s comfortable, where he likes the ball, where he’s had the most success in his past,” Bickerstaff said of LeVert. “I think we understand very well how we can achieve this. The next thing becomes actually going out and doing it.”

    It is not yet known when LeVert injured his foot.

    Although they will be without Garland and LeVert, the Cavs could have forward Lauri Markkanen back against the Pistons after missing 11 games with a severe right ankle sprain suffered Jan. 22.

    Markkanen, in his first season with Cleveland, practiced Wednesday and the Cavs will see how he reacts before deciding if he will play.

    When Markkanen is available, Bickerstaff can play a “high ball” formation with rookie forward Evan Mobley (6-foot-11) and All-Star center Jarrett Allen (6-10). Markkanen’s injury looked more serious when he crashed and he is delighted to be back on the pitch.

    “I’ve rolled my ankle before, I know how it feels,” he said. “But it was different, so I was a bit disappointed when it happened. I think it hurt more than my previous ankle sprains, so I thought it was going to be bigger. But when I did the imaging and found out what it was, it was a relief not to miss as much time as I thought.

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