The Cleveland Cavaliers may be rolling in the Eastern Conference with a 20-6 record, but the team is going to be without a key cog for some time. According to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, starting shooting guard J.R. Smith will need surgery on his broken right thumb.
Cavs fears realized today with JR Smith. He will need surgery on his thumb and will be out an extended period, sources said
— Brian Windhorst (@WindhorstESPN) December 21, 2016
This could potentially be a massive blow for Cleveland. Smith, who suffered the injury in Tuesday’s win over Milwaukee, is averaging 8.6 points while shooting 36 percent from distance this season. That comes on the heels of him averaging 12-plus points and shooting at a 40 percent clip from three-point range last season.
With Smith now out for an extended period of time, the Cavaliers will be forced to rely on Iman Shumpert and potentially even Jordan McRae to get the job done at the two-guard position.
Despite boasting a conference-best 20-6 mark, Cleveland still only finds itself one game ahead of the Toronto Raptors for the best mark back east. Any sort of a step back here could have wide-ranging ramifications at the top of the Eastern Conference as the season progresses.