Report: Cavs teammates had ‘patronizing’ reactions to Darius Garland 3-pointer earlier in Magic series

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David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Teammates of Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Daris Garland reportedly gave the floor general multiple “patronizing pats on the chest” following an instance where he knocked down a 3-pointer late in Game 1 of the team’s first-round playoff series versus the Orlando Magic.

“I sat down Sunday to write about Darius Garland and something curious I saw at the end of Game 1 of this playoff series against the Orlando Magic,” Joe Vardon wrote. “That is when Garland, a former All-Star on a nearly $200 million contract, drained a 3 just above the break and his teammates responded with a slew of patronizing pats on the chest. It was like, see, young man, you can do it.

“It seemed like a strange reaction, considering Garland has played in playoff games before and made big, memorable shots throughout his career. He even scored 51 points in a regular-season game once. So why were the Cavs celebrating Garland’s basket (actually two — he hit a 16-footer and then the 3 to put Cleveland ahead by 16 with 1:36 left in Game 1) as though it meant more?”

During Cleveland’s 2023-24 regular season, Garland served as arguably the Cavaliers’ second-most effective offensive player, behind only Donovan Mitchell. The 24-year-old averaged the second-most points per game on the team (18.0) and led the Cavaliers in assists per contest (6.5) while shooting 44.6 percent from the field and 37.1 percent from 3-point range in his fifth NBA season.

But Garland’s scoring average since the start of the 2024 playoffs indicates that his confidence may have waned, at least compared to the regular season. He is averaging just 12.0 points per game on 41.9 percent accuracy from the field through the first four games of the Cavaliers-Magic series.

The 6-foot-1 guard hasn’t scored more than 15 points in a single game since the series began. He had a 15-point performance — shooting 5-of-11 from the field and 4-of-7 from deep — in Cleveland’s Game 2 victory over the Magic.

Garland had not only his worst offensive performance of the playoffs but arguably of the whole season so far in the Cavaliers’ Game 3 blowout loss to the Magic at Kia Center. The former Vanderbilt University standout ended up with only five points while converting just two of his 10 shot attempts in a game Cleveland lost by a whopping 38 points.

After dropping Games 3 and 4 of the series, Garland and the Cavaliers have arguably their most important game of the season ahead of them. The winner of Tuesday’s Game 5 will take a 3-2 lead in this best-of-seven series.

Garland having his best game of the series from a scoring standpoint in Game 5 would likely go a long way toward helping the Cavaliers take command of their first-round series once again.

Following a monumental Game 5, the Cavaliers will take on the Magic in Game 6 on Friday, May 3. Hopefully, Cleveland will have an opportunity to punch its ticket to Round 2 of the playoffs with a victory in Game 6.

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Jesse is a sports journalist with extensive experience covering the NBA. He has worked as a staff writer at SB Nation’s CelticsBlog and The Knicks Wall.