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Cleveland Cavaliers rookie Evan Mobley suffered a right elbow sprain in Monday night's loss to the Boston Celtics and is expected to miss approximately 2-4 weeks, the team announced in a statement on Tuesday.
An MRI at Cleveland Clinic Sports Health confirmed the injury on Tuesday. Mobley will undergo a period of treatment and rehabilitation that the Cavaliers hope will allow him to return to the court inside of a month.
The news comes a week after fourth-year guard Collin Sexton suffered a meniscus tear in his left knee. Sexton, who averaged 24.3 points a game last season, is expected to miss significant time with the injury.
Mobley left Monday's game at the 11:04 mark of the fourth quarter and did not return. The Celtics won, 98-92. Mobley's one point on 0-for-11 shooting was a season low. He added nine rebounds, five assists and two blocks in 28:40. Wednesday's game against the Brooklyn Nets will mark the first absence of his career.
Mobley, the No. 3 overall pick in this year's NBA draft, is averaging 14.6 points (49/31/77 shooting splits), eight rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.6 blocks in 33.7 minutes per game through 15 outings. He is a leading candidate for the NBA's Rookie of the Year award, logging the most points, rebounds and blocks of any first-year player nearly a month into the season. He also ranks fourth in assists and steals among rookies.
The Cavaliers have outscored opponents by 3.5 points per 100 possessions with Mobley on the court this season and been outscored by 1.3 points per 100 possessions when he is on the bench. That is evidence of Mobley's impact, as is Cleveland's year-over-year rise from the league's 25th-ranked defense to a top-seven outfit. Cleveland is currently 9-6, fifth place in the Eastern Conference and well above expectations.
Cleveland's frontcourt, featuring 7-footers Mobley and Lauri Markkanen and 6-foot-10 center Jarrett Allen, has not started together since the first of November. Allen missed Monday's game with an undisclosed illness and is also expected to miss Wednesday's game against the Nets. Markkanen and veteran forward Kevin Love are scheduled to end their quarantines in COVID-19 health and safety protocols this week.
The absence of all of them on Monday forced 7-foot-6 reserve center Tacko Fall into action against his former team. Fall was relegated to little more than garbage time through the first 14 games of the season.
"Everybody's got to do their part," Cavs coach J.B. Bickerstaff told reporters on Tuesday, shortly after news of Mobley's injury. "We're obviously down him, but we're down other bodies, and that's the NBA. In 82 games, at some point in time, everybody's going to get an opportunity and everybody's just got to step up and do a little bit more. We can't expect one person to replace Evan or Collin or Kevin or Lauri or any of these guys who have been out. It's got to be a group where everybody does a little bit more to fill that gap."
A two-week timeline would keep Mobley out of Cleveland's six remaining games in November. Four weeks would push his return into mid-December, when the Cavs will be nearing their 30th game of the season. In the next four weeks, they are scheduled to play 11 games against the Nets, Golden State Warriors, Phoenix Suns, Dallas Mavericks, Miami Heat, Washington Wizards, Utah Jazz, Milwaukee Bucks and Chicago Bulls.
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