The Miami Heat, who currently sit tied atop the Southeast Division with the Washington Wizards, are expected to be without Bam Adebayo until mid-January.
The All-Star center -- averaging a career-best 18.7 points to go along with 10.2 rebounds -- will need surgery to repair a torn ligament in his right thumb suffered during the Heat's loss to the Denver Nuggets on Monday.
The potential four-to-six week timeframe would have Adebayo missing somewhere between 20 and 25 games.
It is a huge blow for Miami, which already is dealing with a depleted frontcourt because of Markieff Morris' neck injury. Wednesday's game against Cleveland will be the 12th that Morris misses since he was injured in a dustup with Nikola Jokic in Denver last month, and there remains no timetable for his return.
Dewayne Dedmon is the only other big man on the Miami roster who has logged considerable minutes at center this season. The Heat have others who can play the spot, including 41-year-old Udonis Haslem and power forward P.J. Tucker, who is only 6-foot-5.
The Heat and Wizards had identical 13-8 records heading into Wednesday's games.
Associated Press contributed to this story