Cavaliers forward Tristan Thompson could be out for a month because of a strained left calf. He was injured in the second quarter of Wednesday night’s loss to Indiana and left Quicken Loans Arena on crutches.
Thompson played 14 minutes in last night’s 124-107 loss to the Indiana Pacers, finishing with two points and seven rebounds. Thompson entered Wednesday’s game averaging career lows in points (4.7), rebounds (6.0) and minutes (22.6) per game. The team said he had an MRI on Thursday and is projected to return in three to four weeks.
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The injury is the latest blow to the Cavs, who have lost four straight and are just 3-5 this season. Cleveland has had its share of injuries, but the bigger issue has defense for the three-time defending Eastern Conference champions.
Thompson had been coming off the bench, with Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue juggling lineups and trying to mesh many new players. Lue has already used five different starting lineups.
Thompson played in a franchise record 447 consecutive games before a thumb injury ended his streak April 5. Thompson has been an iron man for the Cavaliers in seven seasons, and his extended absence means the team will be without its top interior defender. Thompson, 26, was drafted fourth overall out of Texas by Cleveland in 2011. He started all 21 postseason games for the Cavs in their championship season of 2015-16.
Jae Crowder returns to the starting lineup and Channing Frye is going to get a shot in the rotation, said coach Tyronn Lue. It means the Cavs, who have lost four straight and five of six, will play their sixth different starting lineup already this season. Crowder was one of the pieces Cleveland received from Boston in the Kyrie Irving trade, and he’s struggled. He’s averaging 7.5 points, shooting .375 from the field and .281 from 3-point range. When Crowder is on the court, the Cavs’ opponent’s offensive rating is 114.2. Cleveland’s defensive rating is already the worst in the league at 111.3 — it’s even higher when Crowder is defending.