Cavaliers minus key players heading into matchup with Nets

NBA

The Cleveland Cavaliers are off to a respectable start; and, as their schedule gets tougher, they will need to figure out how to compensate for the absence of standout rookie Evan Mobley.

On Tuesday, the Cavaliers announced that Mobley will miss two to four weeks with a right elbow sprain. Cleveland’s first game without him will be a visit to the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday.

Mobley was injured while jostling for position with Boston’s Enes Kanter in the third quarter of a 98-92 loss to the visiting Celtics on Monday. He finished the third quarter before getting lifted less than a minute into the fourth.

“It was a freak thing that happened,” Cavaliers coach J.B. Bickerstaff told reporters after the team practiced on Tuesday. “It happens a lot. Guys get tangled up. It wasn’t a dirty play or anything like that. Just two guys playing basketball. You hurt for all the guys that get injured the same way.”

Mobley was off to a quick start for a team that heads into Brooklyn with nine wins in its first 15 games. Besides contributing to a defense that is allowing 101.1 points per game, Mobley is averaging 14.6 points, eight rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.6 blocks while shooting 49.4 percent.

Mobley’s absence begins on the front end of a back-to-back that sees Cleveland host Golden State on Thursday before hosting Brooklyn on Monday and the Phoenix Suns on Nov. 24.

Cleveland has another key absence to fill as well.

Collin Sexton is sidelined indefinitely after suffering a torn meniscus on Nov. 7 in a win over the Knicks.

Also, former Brooklyn center Jarrett Allen did not travel with the team due to a non-COVID illness, and Lauri Markkanen is still getting his conditioning back from being in the health and safety protocols and is not expected to play.

Cleveland could get Kevin Love back from an eight-game absence while in the health and safety protocols, but his status likely will be determined Wednesday.

“Everybody’s got to do their part,” Bickerstaff said. “We’re down (Mobley) and other bodies. That’s the NBA in 82 games. At some point in time, everybody is going to get an opportunity. Everybody has to take a step up and do a little more.”

The Nets are coming off one of their worst showings of the season, a 117-99 loss to the visiting Golden State Warriors. After winning five of six on their longest road trip of the season, the Nets lost the lead late in the second quarter before missing 17 of 22 shots and getting outscored 35-18 in the third quarter.

“It obviously fell apart a little bit in the third,” Nets coach Steve Nash said. “We got stagnant with the ball. Our energy dropped.

“We got too stagnant, too iso-happy, didn’t move and didn’t attack the basket. It was a good lesson for us.”

Nash’s team shot a season-worst 38.6 percent and got outrebounded 53-38. It also occurred during Kevin Durant’s worst night of the season, after he averaged 31.5 points during the trip.

Durant is coming off a season-low 19 points when he shot 6 of 19 from the field. The Nets also missed 26 of 36 3-pointers and were without Joe Harris (sprained left ankle), who is not expected to play Wednesday.

–Field Level Media

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