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Donovan Mitchell expected back as Cavs face Pelicans

Feb 5, 2023; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell (45) shoots the ball while  Indiana Pacers forward Aaron Nesmith (23) defends in the second half at Gainbridge Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Cleveland Cavaliers expect to have their starting backcourt back on the floor when they visit the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday night.

Donovan Mitchell (groin) and Darius Garland (thumb) both sat out Wednesday’s 113-85 rout of the Detroit Pistons with minor ailments.

Mitchell, who will start in the upcoming All-Star Game, is averaging 26.8 points per game. Garland is contributing 22 points and 8.1 assists per game.

The Cavaliers didn’t miss either player while posting their fourth consecutive victory. Instead, they were led by frontcourt performers Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley.

Allen scored 20 points on 9-of-13 shooting and collected 16 rebounds — including nine on the offensive boards. Mobley added 19 points and eight rebounds.

“Jarrett did a great job of setting the tone,” Cleveland coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “There was a bunch of extra-effort plays that he made where he was just outworking the guy in front of him. He was able to get offensive rebounds, and his teammates were finding him in the paint.

“And the same thing with Evan. They had opportunities to attack and were extremely aggressive.”

Cleveland didn’t make any significant moves before Thursday’s trade deadline though rumors were heavy that guard Caris LeVert might be on the way out.

But no deal materialized one day after LeVert was just 5-of-16 shooting while scoring 15 points against the Pistons.

“He knows we need him,” said Bickerstaff after Wednesday’s game, “and he knows how to get to his spots and what he’s capable of, so it’s not one of those things where he’s having a bad night and you just sit him down.”

The Cavaliers are looking to finish off a two-game regular-season sweep of the Pelicans. Cleveland registered a 113-103 home victory on Jan. 16 behind 30 points from Garland.

New Orleans stars Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram both missed that game due to injuries.

The injury-prone Williamson (hamstring) won’t be on the floor for the rematch and will miss his 20th consecutive game. Williamson also has been ruled out for the Pelicans’ final two games before the All-Star break and will also sit out the All-Star Game.

Williamson is averaging 26 points in 29 games. The fourth-year pro has played in just 114 games for New Orleans since being the No. 1 overall pick of the 2019 NBA Draft.

Ingram recently returned from a left big toe injury that sidelined him for two months and he appears to be regaining his form. He is averaging 30.3 points over the last three games on 36-of-66 shooting (54.5 percent), including back-to-back efforts of 35 and 30 points.

Ingram made 11 of 18 shots in the 30-point outing during Tuesday’s 116-107 victory over the visiting Atlanta Hawks. It was the Pelicans’ third straight win after they lost 10 consecutive contests and 15 of their previous 18.

“Brandon, it’s a difference when he’s on the floor,” New Orleans coach Willie Green said after the victory over Atlanta. “He’s one of the best players in the game and we’re seeing it over and over. He’s starting to find his rhythm and when he does, he’s a tough cover.”

Ingram said his conditioning is back and that rates as a big help.

“I’m able to get my legs under me a little bit and figure out different things,” Ingram said. “I’m able to score the basketball, but I’m also able to look for the best shot on the floor.”

New Orleans made a minor deal before Thursday’s 3 p.m. ET trade deadline, sending guard Devonte’ Graham and four second-round picks to the San Antonio Spurs for guard Josh Richardson.

Richardson averaged 11.5 points in 42 games for the Spurs this season.

–Field Level Media

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