CLEVELAND, Ohio -- The Cleveland Cavaliers can’t catch a break.
In this turnaround season that’s now been wrecked by injuries, the Cavaliers suffered yet another substantial blow Monday night -- and this one could cripple their playoff chances.
Phenom Evan Mobley, the Rookie of the Year frontrunner, landed awkwardly after attempting to contest Orlando swingman Franz Wagner’s driving layup midway through the second quarter. As Mobley was coming down, he stepped on Wagner’s foot, causing Mobley’s left ankle to roll. After lying on the court in pain during the timeout and briefly getting checked on by Wagner, Mobley was eventually helped to his feet and limped to the locker room. Trainer Steve Spiro and assistant GM Brandon Weems accompanied Mobley to the locker room.
The youngster stayed in the back and was ruled out for the remainder of the game before the third quarter started.
At the time of Mobley’s injury, the Cavs were leading the Magic, 47-35. Orlando went on a 14-4 run immediately after Mobley left the game. The Magic outscored Cleveland, 18-13, in the final 5:11 of the second quarter.
The Cavs started the night without four players -- Collin Sexton (season-ending knee surgery), Dean Wade (season-ending knee surgery), Rajon Rondo (sprained ankle) and Jarrett Allen (fractured left middle finger). Wade, who had been dealing with knee soreness for a few weeks, underwent surgery on his partially-torn meniscus early Monday morning. Mobley became the latest addition to the never-ending injury list.
In 66 games (all starts), Mobley is averaging 15.0 points, 8.3 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.7 blocks.
The third-overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, Mobley leads all rookies in double-doubles with 20, tying for the fifth-most by a rookie in franchise history. He has also blocked at least one shot in 54 games, which is the second-most in the league behind Memphis’ Jaren Jackson Jr. -- the Grizzlies’ standout who is in the running for Defensive Player of the Year.
The Cavs entered the game against Orlando riding a three-game losing streak. They are currently seventh in the Eastern Conference, sliding out of the top 6 following Saturday’s loss to Chicago.
What else can go wrong for the Cavaliers this season?
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