Hang Time Big City — The Cleveland Cavaliers’ bad year just got a bit better.
Yesterday the Cleveland Cavaliers announced that LeBron James would miss the next two weeks with left knee and lower back strains. The absence of James, who leads the Cavaliers in points per game (25.2 ppg) and assists per game (7.6 apg), was the latest in a recent run of rough luck suffered by the Cavs. Anderson Varejao was already out for the season after rupturing his Achilles tendon, and Kevin Love (back spasms) and Shawn Marion (sprained left ankle) both missed Cleveland’s loss to Milwaukee on Wednesday night.
But this morning at their shootaround in Charlotte before tonight’s contest against the Hornets (7 ET, League Pass), Love and Marion confirmed they will play tonight. Love, Cleveland’s leading rebounder at 10.1 boards per game to go with 16.7 points per game, should at least help shoulder the offensive load in James’ absence, while Marion will provide much-needed depth.
As the Northeast Ohio Media Group’s Chris Haynes reports, Love believes the remaining Cavs need to look at James’ absence as an opportunity:
Love, who usually gets a bulk of his touches in the opening quarter, is expecting there to be a balanced attack.
“It will be spread out throughout,” Love said. “It will be a lot of continuity out there. If we can play like that, we’ll be a better team, be able to move that ball.”
No one is feeling sorry for the Cavaliers as they go through this injury-plagued period. Teams are still aiming to take them out. To avoid a two-week crumble, players will have to step up to the plate and produce.
“I think you have to look at it as a glass half full,” Love explained. “Our best player is out, our leader is out but it’s a chance and an opportunity for players to step up, myself included.”
At that same shootaround, Cavs coach David Blatt elaborated on James’ injuries. As the Akron Beacon-Journal‘s Jason Lloyd reports, Blatt said James just needed a break:
“You’re going to have aches and pains. This became an issue where he really just couldn’t play comfortably,” Cavs coach David Blatt said of James. “A lot of things were said unfairly. The guy has been playing with a lot of pain or some pain and we just decided enough. Let’s shut him down, let’s take care of the problem, let’s get him back to feeling 100 percent and we’ll start from there when he’s ready to go again.”
LeBron reaching 100 percent can’t come soon enough for Cleveland. The Cavaliers, who are 18-14 and in second place in the Central Division, have lost four of their last five games, with four of their next five games coming against teams who made the playoffs last season. James is two days in the rehab process and says he’s ready to “get healthy and back to myself.”
VIDEO: Ethan Skolnick explains why Kevin Love’s play will be vital now