Currently on a two-game winning streak and heading out on a lengthy Eastern Conference road trip, the Cleveland Cavaliers could be without a few key faces when they head to South Beach to take on the Miami Heat on Friday. The Cavs will be without Emoni Bates (NBA G League Assignment), Ty Jerome (ankle), Caris LeVert (knee) and Ricky Rubio (personal).
As always, Rubio's absence shouldn't come as a surprise. Cleveland is giving Rubio as much time as possible to prioritize and focus on his mental wellbeing. Jerome hasn't played since Cleveland's home-opening loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder, and there's no sign when he'll return to the floor.
Meanwhile, LeVert is still sidelined with the same knee injury that has kept him out of Cleveland's last two games against the Detroit Pistons and Orlando Magic. Cavs head coach J.B. Bickertaff said LeVert is traveling with the team on this multi-game road trip, hopeful the veteran guard could play at some point as long as he feels 100%. While it won't happen against Miami, there are still opportunities for LeVert to get back on the floor against either Orlando or the Boston Celtics.
Cavs' Evan Mobley at risk of missing first game this season
The biggest surprise on Cleveland's injury report heading into their South Beach brawl is that star big man Evan Mobley, with a sore left knee, is listed as questionable to play in Miami. Without Mobley, the Cavs change completely on defense and could be exploited if All-Star center Jarrett Allen gets overwhelmed with manning the middle by himself.
Mobley hasn’t missed a game this season, but if he does have to sit out, Dean Wade should slide into the starting lineup as the team’s power forward. Georges Niang and Tristan Thompson will likely also see a few extra minutes, with Thompson playing the center minutes whenever Allen rests on the bench.
On the Heat's side, they're even more banged up than the Cavs. When Miami takes on Cleveland, the home team will be without Bam Adebayo (hip), Tyler Herro (ankle), Haywood Highsmith (ankle) and Dru Smith (ACL, season). Meanwhile, Heat three-point specialist Duncan Robinson will probably play against the Cavs despite dealing with a left groin strain. After returning from a thumb injury against the Toronto Raptors, Robinson should continue to start for the Heat despite the minor ailment.
Considering the Heat still have Jimmy Butler, they could pose a stiff challenge to the Cavs despite being just as banged up. Keep an eye on Kyle Lowry, who torched the Cavs from the perimeter and was key in ruining Cleveland's Thanksgiving when both teams played at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. Considering the Cavs are 15-49 all-time in Miami, hopefully Mobley can go since they'll need all the help they can get.
But coming off a strong, dominant win over the Orlando Magic, momentum could be in Cleveland's corner heading into a tough matchup.