The Cleveland Cavaliers lost more than the game when they fell to the Denver Nuggets over the weekend.
They lost Tristan Thompson for a while, too.
From ESPN.com’s Dave McMenamin:
Thompson stepped on the heel of a Nuggets player in the first half on Saturday. He went on to play 13 minutes in the second half — finishing the game with 12 points and seven rebounds — but experienced “significant swelling” overnight, according to the team.
Larry Nance Jr., who suffered his own minor injury in that loss to the Nuggets, will replace Thompson in the Cavaliers’ starting five. Though the team is a plus-22.9 points per 100 possessions whenever Nance shares the court with LeBron James, this isn’t exactly a blessing in disguise. The former has played fewer than five minutes with the other four starters, per NBA.com, and more to the point, Cleveland doesn’t have too many bigs at its disposal.
Kevin Love is already on the shelf, and the Cavaliers shipped out Channing Frye as part of their trade-deadline chaos. Even with James and Cedi Osman lining up at the 4, they still have a gaping hole at backup center. Ante Zizic may have to see some serious floor time, while head coach Tyronn Lue will undoubtedly have to lean on super-small combinations that feature LeBron, or even Osman, lining up at the 5.
Maybe this extra spacing will be a boon for the Cavaliers’ offense. It will not, however, do much for their defense. They’re 28th in points allowed per 100 possessions, and while Thompson hasn’t been great in his role this year, he’s a semi-switchy big body they don’t otherwise have. And with games coming up against the Nuggets, Los Angeles Clippers and Portland Trail Blazers over the next 10 days, the Cavaliers can only hope Thompson doesn’t miss too much time.