The Cleveland Cavaliers will be without rookie big man Evan Mobley for at least the next three games, as he’s dealing with a sprained left ankle, the team announced Wednesday afternoon. Mobley sustained the injury in Monday’s win over the Orlando Magic, where he only played 13 minutes before exiting the game in the first quarter after coming down on Magic forward Franz Wagner’s foot. The third overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft will miss games against the Dallas Mavericks, Atlanta Hawks and New York Knicks, as he’ll undergo treatment to heal his ankle.
Mobley has been essential in Cleveland’s success this season, averaging 15 points, 8.3 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.6 blocks per game. He’s surprised many people with how impactful he’s been on both ends of the floor, specifically on defense. He’s helped anchor Cleveland’s defense alongside Jarrett Allen in the frontcourt, and his impressive play has made him a frontrunner for the Rookie of the Year award.
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But the timing of this injury isn’t ideal for a Cavs team that is a game behind the Toronto Raptors for the No. 6 spot in the East with seven games left. If Cleveland finishes the season as the seventh seed, it will have to go through the play-in tournament to secure one of the final two playoff spots in the Eastern Conference.
Mobley’s injury also puts the Cavaliers down two starters, as Allen has been sidelined since the beginning of March with a fractured finger. The absence of Cleveland’s two most important defenders is a tough pill to swallow, especially in this next stretch of games against the Mavericks and the Hawks, two teams that are also trying to improve their playoff standing.
The Cavs will have to figure out how to tread water until Mobley is back, because, with matchups against the Brooklyn Nets, Milwaukee Bucks and Philadelphia 76ers all on the horizon, they’ll certainly need him healthy in order to have a shot at winning those important games.