The Cleveland Cavaliers have been dealing with some injuries to start the season, as JR Smith is out with a knee injury and Kyrie Irving remains out after having surgery this summer. LeBron James and Kevin Love have started the season strong for the Cavs and Irving may have a return date set for some time in January for Cleveland.
The Cavs have started the season 4-1 and they come in after a win against the Knicks on Wednesday night and are leading the central division. James has been able to play without any issues after dealing with a back problem in the preseason, while Kevin Love has been off to a good start while averaging 17 points and 11 rebounds per game. The Cavs have been playing without Irving, Iman Shumpert and Smith and the team has still looked like one of the best in the league.
Smith suffered a knee contusion this past week and according to ESPN.com, Smith will be out for at least two games. The team is hoping that Smith can return on Sunday against the Pacers, but that is not a guarantee yet. The Cavs will take it slow and evaluate Smith heading into the weekend and if his knee is better, he likely will get some minutes on Sunday. Smith is averaging 4.8 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists in four games this season.
With Smith and Irving out, the Cavs have been playing Matthew Dellavedova and Mo Williams for extended stretches and other bench players have also gotten into the mix. James Jones has been playing more than usual and Richard Jefferson has also seen action early in the season. The Cavs are not worried about the injuries, as James said that the most important thing is getting everyone healthy for the postseason. Irving has been out since the NBA finals and he could return over the next month or two.
According to ESPN, Irving said that while no return date is officially set, he has "one in mind" and that there is a "light at the end of the tunnel" regarding his knee injury. Irving suffered the knee injury in the playoffs last season and has been rehabbing over the summer and the start of the season and while he mentioned January as a potential return date, Irving added that he is "continuing the process" and taking things "one day at a time."
Irving said to ESPN that he has been working out with his teammates and that he has been doing three-hour rehab sessions each day to come back from his injury. Mo Williams and Dellavedova have been playing in place of Irving and the two have performed well in his absence. According to ESPN Stats, Williams and Dellavedova have combined for 22 points, 11 assists and five rebounds per game to open the season. The Cavaliers are hoping to have Irving back at 100 percent and they will likely be cautious with the point guard so he does not have any setbacks.