The regular season is finally here and so are the injuries for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Both Larry Nance Jr. (ankle) and J.R. Smith (elbow) will be inactive for Wednesday night’s game against the Toronto Raptors. While Smith’s place in the rotation is in question, Nance likely would have come off the bench behind Tristan Thompson to help match up against Jonas Valanciunas.
The status of both players was first reported by Joe Vardon of The Athletic.
While Smith’s exclusion from the lineup may not have much impact on the rotation, Nance’s absence may mean more minutes for Ante Zizic.
However, Toronto has been going smaller throughout the preseason with either Serge Ibaka at center, or with more mobile big men like Pascal Siakam. While Thompson will likely be able to stay with these more mobile looks, it could put Tyronn Lue in a difficult position when he goes to his bench.
Either way, the Cavs are opening up the season in a pretty tough spot. The Raptors were the most dominant regular season team in the Conference last season and added both Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green to what was already a top five defense. Cleveland will try to play spoiler to a fired up crowd that last saw their team being swept in embarrassing fashion in the 2018 playoffs.