Jr Smith goes down for 12-14 weeks, Mike Dunleavy steps up for the Cavs
The feeling around a three-game winning streak never felt so ominous. After lingering injuries, exploited defensive weaknesses and the news about Jr Smith’s near regular season-ending rehab, the Cavs “next man up” philosophy hasn’t been this relevant since the 2015 NBA Finals. In the most convenient fashion, when JR Smith fell, another sharpshooter seized the moment Friday night against the Brooklyn Nets.
Mike Dunleavy, who has had the most exciting yet disappointing season of his career thus far, found the confidence in the form of 14 points on 6-9 field goals and 50% from beyond the arc after 22 minutes against the Nets. With his lowest contributions all season since his rookie year and his worst three-point shooting start since 2005, Dunleavy embraced Smith’s injury as a make or break situation.
Dunleavy’s future is in his hands, so we will wait to see if he can continue to make his case for being a part of the championship run. If his production doesn’t meet the demand, David Griffin will likely have no reason not to look into trading the veteran as the Cavs finalize their playoff roster later in the season.