Jarrett Allen Getting Another Chance To Shine Bright, And Man, Do The Cavs Need It

Power forward Evan Mobley is out again, which can only mean one thing — the Cavaliers will again need more of center Jarrett Allen.Jarrett Allen, Cleveland Cavaliers, NBA

That shouldn’t be an issue, given how well Allen played the last time Mobley was out. Last time, Mobley missed six weeks following minor knee surgery. This time, he is expected to miss at least one week with a sprained ankle.

And last time, Allen responded with perhaps the best stretch of his career, performing like an All-Star and setting the franchise record for consecutive double-doubles. The big man was a big reason the Cavs were able to kick off 2024 by winning 17 of 18.

Allen again responded in Mobley’s absence in Wednesday’s loss to the Hawks, scoring 18 points and erupting for 19 rebounds. Allen also displayed the fighting spirit that enabled the Cavs to fight back from a 21-point deficit to take the lead, all in the third quarter, before they ran out of gas.

“He knows that when he’s at his best, we’re at our best,” coach J.B. Bickerstaff said of Allen, via Ethan Sands of Cleveland.com. “He sacrifices of himself time and time again to go out and do all the dirty things that most people don’t want to do, and most people don’t recognize. I couldn’t be more proud of his effort (Wednesday).”

The Cavs (40-22) sit second in the Central Division and third in the Eastern Conference. They seem to have a firm grasp on those spots, but without Mobley and the injured Donovan Mitchell, they will have to fight hard for every victory.

Allen is undoubtedly among the reasons to keep believing.

“It’s time for me just to step up in our position and try to help the team win,” Allen said, via Sands. “For me, it’s just trying to fill the hole where he left [off]. Whether it’s dribble handoffs, finding people on the back door, just trying to do whatever he can. I know I’m not gonna get to that level of what he does, but any little bit I can do helps.”

It’s true that Allen’s game is quite different than that of Mobley. For instance, any shot for Allen outside of 5 feet could be considered an adventure. But he never forces anything and plays within himself. He doesn’t need long possessions with the ball to make an impact.

That’s something his teammates can appreciate.

“To be honest with you, we’ve seen it all year. J.A.’s been great for us the entire year,” point guard Darius Garland said of Allen. “It’s just another step that he’s gonna take since Evan [Mobley] is out. It’s gonna be a lot more pressure on him, which I think he loves, so he can just do his thing. He’s built for stuff like this. We expect the best out of him.”

Does this mean Allen and Moley are better off without each other? Probably not. Defensively, they rank near the very top of big-man duos in the league. But they are still working out offensively.

“They both want each other to be successful,” Bickerstff said, via Sands. “So, a lot of times, when it’s just one of them on the floor, they know right away, go get to the action. When it’s both of them, there’s a little bit of hesitation because now they’re trying to figure out who’s going to go to it.”

For now, the Cavs will likely go with Dean Wade in Mobley’s spot, and Wade is almost more of a small forward with his penchant for shooting perimeter shots. So that leaves Allen alone to man the low blocks.

As we’ve seen, he is sometimes at his best when that’s the case, and without question, the Cavs will again need Allen to turn it up a notch. On the bright side, he said he knows that.

The Cavs return to action Friday, when they host the West-leading Minnesota Timberwolves. All-Star forward/center Karl-Anthony Towns will miss the game after suffering a meniscus injury, as we relayed here.

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