Cleveland Cavaliers forward Dean Wade is out for 3-4 weeks as he recovered from a sprained AC joint in his left shoulder, the team announced Sunday. The injury occurred early in Friday's Cleveland win over the Orlando Magic, and Wade was quickly ruled out from there. Now the Cavaliers will need to move forward without him for the next month or so.
While Wade isn't one of Cleveland's big-name stars, he's become an integral role player for one of the Eastern Conference's best teams. When Wade is on the floor, the Cavaliers outscore opponents by 11.6 points per 100 possessions, a figure that dips to 4.3 when he's on the bench.
Wade is shooting a career-best 41.1 percent from deep this season, helping space the floor for a Cavs team that plays two big men as much as any other team in basketball.
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While Cleveland is set up front and in the backcourt, the big question mark for them entering this season was how they'd find suitable wing play. Wade has been one of their answers this season, starting nine games and playing a key reserve role in eight others. He is the closest thing they have to a 3-and-D forward, so getting him back quickly will be integral.
Still, the 15-8 Cavaliers have been excellent all season. They have the NBA's second-best point-differential thus far this season, and with four potential All-Stars in the building, they're as well-suited as any team in basketball to the occasional injury. They'll survive Wade's absence, but it will be a blow until he returns.