Cavaliers in tough spot in getting East’s top seed with J.R. Smith out 3 months

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Photo courtesy: Erik Drost/Flickr

J.R. Smith would miss majority of the rest of the regular season with a recent thumb surgery.

The Cleveland Cavaliers starting shooting guard is reportedly out 12 to 14 weeks, which means that the earliest he could return is late this season but will be back in time for the 2017 NBA Playoffs.

J.R. Smith’s shooting to be missed by Cavs

Smith was a crucial piece in the Cavaliers’ title run last year and they need his shooting back in the postseason if they want to defend their title. The initial estimate was that Smith will return mid-March 2017 so he might be able to play a few more regular season games before the playoffs start.

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According to RealGM, the surgery involves repairing a “complex fracture” of the thumb. Earlier reports had Smith returning early but it appears to be worse than what was initially thought.

The Cavaliers now have no choice but to look for help in their line-up. DeAndre Liggins has started the last two games for the Cavaliers after Smith went out with the thumb injury in a 114-108 win over the Milwaukee Bucks last Dec. 20.

Who will step up for Cleveland with Smith?

Cleveland will also need other wingmen to step up the rest of the regular season with Smith out.

Iman Shumpert, Mike Dunleavy and Jordan McRae had increased minutes in the Cavs’ 119-99 win over the Brooklyn Nets on Friday night. Veterans Richard Jefferson and James Jones are also expected to have increased playing time.

The Cavaliers will need Shumpert and Dunleavy’s consistency from the three-point area. Cleveland is also expected to see more usage of their “Big 3” LeBron James, Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving.

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Cleveland is currently at the top of the East with a 22-6 record. But the Toronto Raptors (20-8) are surging as well and just two games back off the defending champions.

Photo courtesy: Erik Drost/Flickr

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