INDEPENDENCE, Ohio (AP) – The Cavaliers will be missing two guards – not including All-Star Kyrie Irving – when they host Oklahoma City.
Iman Shumpert, who just returned from a wrist injury sustained during the preseason, will miss Cleveland’s game Thursday night game with a strained right groin. Also, starting point guard Mo Williams is down with a sprained right thumb.
With Irving still out of the lineup and no date set for his debut, the Cavs will have their hands full in trying to stop Thunder star Russell Westbrook.
“That’s a tall task,” Cavs coach David Blatt said.
Matthew Dellavedova will start in place of Williams, who is averaging 13 points and 4.1 assists. J.R. Smith is expected to start at shooting guard.
Shumpert was hurt Tuesday night in Cleveland’s win over Boston. It was just his second game back after missing the first 21 games this season following wrist surgery. His groin injury is not believed to be serious.
The Cavs did not put a timeframe on a return for Shumpert, perhaps the team’s best defensive player who came to Cleveland last season in a trade with the New York Knicks. After the team returned from Boston, Shumpert delivered a baby girl when his fiancee unexpectedly went into labor at home.
“Dr. Shumpert now,” Blatt joked.
Williams also got hurt in the win over the Celtics.
While Shumpert recovers, the team is also awaiting the return of Irving, who hasn’t played since breaking his left kneecap in Game 1 of last season’s NBA Finals.
Irving traveled with the Cavs on their trip to Orlando and Boston, but did not play. The team is being cautious with Irving, who has battled injuries throughout his career. Blatt said facing the Thunder did not have any bearing on Irving not playing.
“We still have some steps to go through before we’re confident that he’s ready,” Blatt said. “When we get to that point we’ll put him out there regardless of what team. We’ll go through another practice and go through some testing that we’ll do with him and then we’ll see where we stand.”
The Cavs host Philadelphia on Sunday.
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