J.R. Smith will undergo a procedure for his injured right thumb. It’s a minor injury, but there is no timetable for his return, according to reports this week. The Cleveland Cavaliers shooter is out indefinitely and the team is hoping the other players pick up the slack in his absence in the next few games.
According to USA Today Sports, Smith’s return will be identified after the procedure. The injury happened in the Cavs win over the Bucks Tuesday night after Smith swiped the ball at Giannis Antetokounmpo in the first half.
Smith’s loss means chances for Shumpert, Liggins, Dunleavy
The Cavaliers have already lost starting forward Kevin Love to injury the past games, forcing them to start veteran Richard Jefferson. Iman Shumpert, Mike Dunleavy and DeAndre Liggins will get their chances of increasing their contributions to the team.
Shumpert and Dunleavy usually back up LeBron James and Smith but one could get the start of. Liggins can also play alongside starting PG Kyrie Irving in Cavs’ small ball lineup.
This could be a big blow for the defending champions, especially if Smith misses extended time. The Toronto Raptors (20-8) are creeping behind the Cavs (20-6) for the top spot in the Eastern Conference.
Luckily for the Cavaliers, other teams are struggling this season. The Boston Celtics (16-12), Charlotte Hornets (16-13) and New York Knicks (15-13) hold the East’s third to fifth spots.
However, Cavs head coach Tyronn Lue is not worried even if they lost the top seeds to their other East rivals.
“For me, it’s always been most important having health, so if it’s a chance we can get (home court advantage), great, but if our health is gonna be a factor in that, then I’ll take health over home court,” Lue told Cleveland.com.
Smith is averaging 8.6 points with 2.4 made three-pointers per game this season.
The Cavaliers face the Bucks on Wednesday night, then hosts the Brooklyn Nets and Golden State Warriors in their next two games.
Photo courtesy: Erik Drost/Flickr