NBA Rumors: Cavaliers fear J.R. Smith has a broken thumb


The Cleveland Cavaliers won on Tuesday night, but they may have lost guard J.R. Smith for an extended period of time.

The Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Milwaukee Bucks 114-108 in overtime on Tuesday night for their 20th win of the season. Kevin Love missed the game with a knee injury, and his status for the second game of the back-to-back against the Bucks Wednesday night is iffy. Guard J.R. Smith left Tuesday night’s game in the first half with a right thumb injury, and he may be facing an extended absence.

According to Dave McMenamin and Brian Windhorst of ESPN, the Cavaliers fear Smith has a broken right thumb. Initial x-rays at the arena Tuesday night were inconclusive, but Smith is set to be re-evaluated back in Cleveland on Wednesday. Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue said he did not know exactly how Smith was injured, but Fox Sports Ohio reported it occurred when Smith swiped down on Bucks’ forward Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Smith lingered on the free agent market until just before the start of the season, and he then signed a four-year, $57 million deal to return to the Cavaliers in mid-October. He also missed a handful of games earlier this season with ankle and knee issues, and now this thumb issue stands to further derail Smith’s season.

Smith is averaging 8.6 points, 2.1 rebounds and 1.2 assists per game so far this season (21 games), while shooting 33.7 percent from the floor and 36.2 percent from beyond the arc. Those numbers are all down compared to last season, when Smith averaged 12.4 points per game while making 40 percent of his three-pointers over 77 regular season games.

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The injury being to his shooting hand makes it a virtual certainty Smith will be out awhile. But the playoffs and winning titles is the priority for the LeBron James-led Cavaliers, and Smith should be able to return in time contribute to a postseason run.