The Cleveland Cavaliers already aren't as deep on the bench as they were last year when they won the NBA title.
Already without guard J.R. Smith, who is rehabbing a thumb injury, the team was dealt another big blow this week when it was announced star forward Kevin Love would miss the next six weeks after having surgery on his left knee on Tuesday.
With the Cavs currently sporting a 38-16 record to lead the Eastern Conference by 2.5 games over the Boston Celtics, healthy stars LeBron James and Kyrie Irving will have to carry more of the scoring load if the team is going to stay on top of the standings.
According to ESPN, James is disheartened by Love's injury and wishes the best for his friend and teammate moving forward:
"Sucks," James said before the Cavs' shootaround Tuesday morning. "It's just our road every season. One of our key guys get hurt and this year has probably been the worst out of all years - having our starting 2-guard [J.R. Smith] out for so long and now having our All-Star power forward out for an extended period of time.
"It's just next man up and we just hope for a healthy and speedy recovery for our All-Star."
In the Cavaliers' first game without Love, they managed to go into Minnesota and earn a 116-108 victory over the Timberwolves, with LeBron playing 40 minutes and Irving logging 37 minutes of action.
Love is averaging a double-double this season - 20 points and 11.1 rebound per game - so he won't be easy to replace. However, one silver lining is that the Cavs recently added former No. 2 overall pick Derrick Williams to the roster, who will likely see an increased workload in Love's absence.
Channing Frye started in place of love and performed admirably, recording a double-double with 21 points and 10 rebounds. Williams played 23 minutes off the bench and had 13 points and six boards.
Though those players stepped up in Love's absence on Tuesday night, Cleveland will need a healthy Love if it wants to have any chance of defending last year's title.