On Monday night, the Cleveland Cavaliers took a 2-0 series lead over the Indiana Pacers. While the wine and gold showed their dominance for much of the game, one of their starters was held out of the second half due to an injury.
In the first half of the game, Cavs guard J.R. Smith suffered a left hamstring injury, an injury that forced the veteran to watch the rest of the game from the bench while he was very angry, both at the situation and the fact that he was injured—again. According to NBA TV and TNT’s Kristen Ledlow, the 31-year-old will undergo further treatment and evaluation on Tuesday and official word is expected to be announced on Wednesday.
…but he will receive medical treatment tonight and tomorrow, followed by further evaluation. Official word expected by Wednesday. #GameTwo
— Kristen Ledlow (@KristenLedlow) April 18, 2017
Before members of the media were allowed into the locker room following Monday night’s game, Smith had already packed up and headed home.
Smith may be struggling and inconsistent on the offensive end, but during the first two games of the series, he has been an important part of the defense. Rather than Cavs star LeBron James having to use a bunch of energy on defense in order to try and lockdown Pacers star Paul George, Smith has taken the honors of trying to stop PG-13, allowing No. 23 to use more of his energy on the offensive side of the ball.
Although Smith has arguably had his worst season since his second season in the NBA in 2005-06, partially due to a thumb injury that forced him to miss half of the season, he has been and will be a big part of the reason why the Cavs are fighting to win back-to-back championships.
Supposedly, following Monday night’s win, the sharpshooter was angry because he wanted to play in the second half but was not allowed to. Whether it was for precautionary reasons or not, it had to be hard for Smith to watch his team from the bench and not help contribute in any way during a postseason game. While it is not known whether Smith will return for Game 3 Thursday night, if he is forced to miss time, guard Iman Shumpert will likely step into the starting lineup. After falling out of the rotation in Game 1 (and not playing a single second), Shump had five points and one steal in 20 minutes after starting the second half in place of Smith Monday night.
If the Cavs want to win their second championship in as many seasons, Smith has to be healthy. While the hamstring injury doesn’t seem too serious, considering he wanted to return to the game, further evaluation will tell the official word. With everything that Smith has gone through already this year, hopefully he will be back on the court sooner rather than later, both for his sake and for the Cavaliers.