Cleveland Cavaliers guard Darius Garland has been frustrated with how many times he has been hit in the face in the 2022-23 season.
Garland was injured in Cleveland’s season opener against the Toronto Raptors, and an eye injury caused him to miss the team’s next five games. Garland revealed to Right Down Euclid’s Evan Dammarell that he could only see one half of the court properly during his recovery.
“Garland shared with Right Down Euclid that during his recovery, he could only see properly to the right side of the court,” Dammarell wrote. “When you’re the franchise point guard that’s suboptimal, to say the least. Thankfully, for both Garland’s and Cleveland’s sake, a lot of what he does on the floor requires muscle memory and having a willing playmaking alongside him in Donovan Mitchell softens the load as his eye continues to recover.”
The Cavs were able to get by without Garland early in the season, going 6-0 in the six games he’s missed so far in the 2022-23 campaign.
However, the All-Star guard believes that there is a target on him around the league based on the number of times he’s been hit in the face.
“I’ve been hit in my eye about eight times this season already,” said Garland to Right Down Euclid on Thursday. “I don’t know what it is but, I mean, I’ve had a target on my back. So, I have to accept it. I’m just going to get hit in my face.”
The Cavs certainly don’t want their star point guard getting injured again, especially to his eye since it is such a fragile area of the body. Cleveland has been one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference this season, and Garland being on the floor is a huge key for the team maintaining that success.
Garland may ask the Cavs to make him a protective mask or find him a pair of goggles so he can avoid a further injury to his eye. That may be worth it so he can play without worrying about getting hit in the face again this season.
“Garland did go on to say to Right Down Euclid that he views teams being so aggressive toward him as a sign of respect to him and his game,” Dammarell wrote. “But, he did say that how often his already injured eye is getting hit is, ‘getting out of hand.’ Garland seems resigned to the fact that this is just how this season is going to go for him, healthy or not. He even told Right Down Euclid that he might ask the team to mould a protective mask or find him a pair of goggles just to keep him safer. But, to others within the Cavaliers, they aren’t watching the abuse Garland’s eye is taking quietly.”
The No. 5 overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, Garland has taken a major leap in each of his seasons in the NBA. Last season, he really showed that he can be one of the best guards in the NBA, making his first All-Star team.
Garland averaged 21.7 points, 3.3 rebounds and 8.6 assists per game last season, shooting a career-high 46.2 percent from the field.
This season, he’s been an even better scorer, averaging 22.2 points per game through his first 19 contests.
With Donovan Mitchell now in the fold in Cleveland, Garland has a running mate that can carry the offense at times and take some pressure off of him.
That’s a great sign for Cleveland, as the team narrowly missed the playoffs last season. With a 16-9 record so far this season, the Cavs seem primed to pick up a top spot in the East.
As long as Garland and the Cavs find a way to protect the star guard’s eye, he should be on his way to another impressive campaign.