Lightning struck twice two weeks ago for the Cleveland Cavaliers. In a matchup against the Miami Heat two weeks ago, Jarrett Allen suffered an eye injury after Heat big man Bam Adebayo swiped at him during play. The injury harkened back to last season when Allen suffered an injury that kept him out of key matchups down the stretch for Cleveland, ultimately helping derail what was shaping up to be Cleveland’s first non-LeBron James-led playoff run since 1998.
He’s yet to take the floor for the Cavaliers since then. But Friday, head coach JB Bickerstaff provided an update on the former All-Star’s health.
“He’s progressing well,” Bickerstaff told reporters on Friday. “Again, structurally everything is OK to this point. You just deal with the things that happen when you get hit in the eye and the swelling around the eye. He’s doing more on the court and it’s just a matter of when he can safely return.”
According to Kelsey Russo of The Athletic, Allen is doing “individual work” to stay fit and ready whenever he is able to return.
Fortunately for the Cavs, Allen’s injury hasn’t derailed the season á la 2022. But every matchup is nonetheless vital, with the fifth-place New York Knicks just 2.5 games back of the Cavs.
Cavs Zeroing in on Playoff Opponent
But it’s a different New York-based team that the Cavs hope to see in a playoff matchup.
According to Chris Fedor of cleveland.com, the Cavaliers are eyeing a playoff matchup against the Nets.
“No one inside the organization would say this publicly — and they shouldn’t. But multiple people I’ve spoken to recently are privately hoping for a Brooklyn matchup,” Fedor reported.
Fedor explained why a showdown with the Nets makes for the “easiest path” out of the East.
“Brooklyn was 32-20 at the time it dealt Kyrie Irving — a move that preceded Kevin Durant’s departure. While the Nets haven’t completely imploded since those two megadeals, their organizational ceiling has lowered considerably, and they no longer pose the same challenge in a seven-game series. The last time they looked — and consistently played — like a playoff-caliber team was when Irving and Durant were both there. The Nets are 7-11 over the last month-plus without those two superstars. They also have the most inexperienced coach of the potential first-round foes,” Fedor completed.
The Nets currently sit at No. 6 in the Eastern Conference, two games behind the Knicks. While not utterly outside the realm of possibility, quite a bit would have to go right for the Cavs to see Brooklyn in the playoffs.
Potential Knicks-Cavs Matchup Touted
Already nicknamed the “Donovan Mitchell Bowl,” Dan Favale of Bleacher Report named a Cavaliers-Knicks matchup as the eighth-most exciting possible showdown.
In a similar fashion to the Allen deal, the Cavaliers managed to land Mitchell over the summer, despite Knicks fans practically already printing Mitchell’s name on the back of jerseys.
But as Favale noted, the “Mitchell Bowl” has more to offer than just history.
“Tantalizing individual matchups galore are peppered throughout this prospective series, which could reasonably take place during the first round in the No. 4 vs. No. 5 spot. Julius Randle vs. Evan Mobley. Jarrett Allen vs. Mitchell Robinson. Isaac Okoro vs. Jalen Brunson,” Favale wrote.