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Why is Cavaliers star Donovan Mitchell out for Game 4 vs. Celtics?

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Taking down a team that finished 16 games better in the regular season typically requires all hands on deck. The Cavaliers won’t have the benefit of that in Monday’s Game 4 against the Celtics in the East Semifinals.

Star guard Donovan Mitchell is out for Game 4, leaving the Cavaliers shorthanded with center Jarrett Allen also still dealing with an injury
. Cleveland trails the series 2-1.

Mitchell has been irreplaceable for the Cavaliers throughout much of the playoffs, overcoming a pair of disappointing performances early in Cleveland’s series against the Magic by rattling off at least 28 points in each of his past six games. The All-Star’s supporting cast has been inconsistent in the playoffs, so the Cavaliers could be in real trouble in any game without Mitchell.

Here’s what you need to know about Mitchell’s injury and his timeline to return.

MORE: Is this Donovan Mitchell’s last playoff run with Cavaliers?

Mitchell is out for Game 4 due to a calf strain, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Cavaliers coach J.B. Bickerstaff previously told reporters earlier Monday that he wasn’t sure whether Mitchell would play.

It wasn’t known coming out of Game 3 that Mitchell was dealing with any significant injury, but calf injuries tend to be tricky and can linger, affecting a player’s burst. Celtics big man Kristaps Porzingis
aggravated a calf injury earlier in the playoffs and still hasn’t returned, while Nuggets guard Jamal Murray has been playing through a calf injury and appeared hampered until Denver received three full days of rest during its series against Minnesota.

Mitchell had played every playoff game leading up to Monday’s Game 4, but he missed 27 games during the regular season as he dealt with a lingering knee issue. 

Caris LeVert figures to see an increased role with Mitchell out, but the Cavaliers’ entire supporting cast will be asked to step up without their star. Mitchell is averaging just under 30 points per game in these playoffs, but no one else on the roster has come close to rivaling his production. Darius Garland, shooting 44.9 percent, is Cleveland’s second-leading playoff scorer at 14.7 points per game.

MORE: How Evan Mobley’s defense was key to Cavaliers’ Game 2 upset

There is no word on Mitchell’s chances of playing in Wednesday’s Game 5 back in Boston. That’s all the Cavaliers are guaranteed right now, as two more losses would end their season.

It’s impossible to tell how serious Mitchell’s injury is until more details come out, as there was no clear moment of injury in Game 3. Calf injuries are tricky, with one keeping Porzingis out for multiple weeks, but not all calf injuries are the same. Murray has been able to play through his discomfort, albeit struggling until the Nuggets received an extended break.

The Cavaliers only have 48 hours between Game 4 and Game 5, so Mitchell won’t have the benefit of an extended break ahead of what could very well be an elimination game for Cleveland. 

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