The Cleveland Cavaliers have been the surprise of the NBA through the first few weeks of the new season. After going a combined 60-159 over the last three years, the upstart Cavs have started the season 7-4 and are right in the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff race.
But that might not last for much longer, as Cleveland was just dealt a devastating injury blow to fourth-year guard Collin Sexton.
Collin Sexton had the Cavaliers flying high to start the season
The Milwaukee Bucks, Boston Celtics, and Atlanta Hawks all starting off the year at 4-6 wasn’t an expected development by early November, but the Cavaliers flying out to a 7-4 record might be an even more surprising storyline in the Eastern Conference. Cleveland beat three straight playoff teams from last season in the Hawks, Denver Nuggets, and Los Angeles Clippers earlier in the year, and the team has now rattled off four straight wins to take over the sixth spot in the East standings.
It’s been a complete team effort for the Cavaliers to start the season. Eight players on the roster are averaging at least 9.3 points per game, and 11 players are averaging 10 minutes or more on the court.
But leading the way from the beginning has been 22-year-old Collin Sexton. Sexton leads the team in points per game with 16.0, and he’s surprisingly been one of the team’s emotional leaders despite being one of the youngest players in the locker room.
Unfortunately for Sexton and the Cavs, though, he might’ve just played his final game for a while.
Cavaliers suffer devastating injury blow as Collin Sexton tears his meniscus
The Cavaliers dominated the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden on Sunday in what was arguably their most impressive win of the season, but they lost Sexton to an injury along the way. The next day, Cavs fans received devastating news about their budding star.
On Monday afternoon, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported in a tweet that Sexton suffered a torn meniscus in his left knee. There’s “no immediate timetable on a return,” according to Woj, but the Cavaliers expect him to have an “extended absence.”
Sexton will undergo further tests on his left knee in the coming days to determine the severity of the tear. It’s possible he won’t need surgery and could return to the court in a few weeks, but going under the knife would knock Sexton out of the lineup for at least a few months.
We’ll most likely know more about Sexton’s return timetable later this week.
Can the Cavaliers stay hot without their best scorer?
Sexton hadn’t been shooting very efficiently to start the season, but he was still the go-to option down the stretch when the Cavaliers needed a bucket. Now, Cleveland will have to rely on youngsters such as Darius Garland, Jarrett Allen, and Evan Mobley to pick up the slack.
All three have played admirably as new teammates thus far, and Sexton’s absence will only help them improve their chemistry with more minutes. However, it won’t be easy for an undermanned Cavs team to keep up this winning pace without their best scorer in the lineup.
They might find themselves slipping out of playoff contention sooner than later.
All stats courtesy of Basketball Reference.