Kevin Love broke a bone in his hand, as things go from bad to worse for the Cavs

The last thing the Cleveland Cavaliers needed right now, as they continue to slog through the on-court struggles and off-court dysfunction that have complicated their bid for a fourth straight Eastern Conference championship, was an injury to one of their most important players. So, naturally, that’s exactly what they got.

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Kevin Love checked out of Tuesday’s nationally televised matchup with the Detroit Pistons with just over seven minutes to go in the opening quarter, after failing to corral an entry pass while defended by Detroit’s Anthony Tolliver and Reggie Bullock:

Love immediately grabbed his left hand and promptly raced right to the locker room for X-rays. The pictures told a heartbreaking story: Love has suffered a non-displaced fracture of the fifth metacarpal in his left hand, according to Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com, as Murphy’s law continues to rule the day for these Cavs, who entered Tuesday having lost 10 of their last 15 to drop to 29-19, 5 1/2 games behind the Boston Celtics in the race for the No. 1 spot in the Eastern Conference.

25 PHOTOS
Kevin Love through his career
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Kevin Love through his career
UCLA's Kevin Love (C) eyes a rebound with Washington State's Daven Harmeling (L) and Kyle Weaver during their NCAA basketball game in Los Angeles January 12, 2008. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson (UNITED STATES)
UCLA's Kevin Love laughs during a timeout in the first half of their NCAA baskeball game against USC at the PAC-10 tournament in Los Angeles March 14, 2008. Love was the high scorer for the game with 19 points as UCLA won the game 57-54 to advance to the final on Saturday. REUTERS/Chris Pizzello (UNITED STATES)
UCLA Bruins' Kevin Love celebrates their win over Western Kentucky Hilltoppers at the end of their NCAA men's West Regional basketball game in Phoenix, Arizona, March 27, 2008. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson (UNITED STATES)
UCLA center Lorenzo Mata-Real (14) holds up the West Regional trophy as he celebrates with teammates James Keefe (L), Kevin Love (4th R) and head coach Ben Howland (R) after defeating Xavier Musketeers in their NCAA men's West Regional basketball game in Phoenix, March 29, 2008. REUTERS/Rick Scuteri (UNITED STATES)
Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Love smiles during a timeout in the second half of their NBA basketball game against the Toronto Raptors in the Target Center in Minneapolis January 29, 2011. Love scored 21 points, and the Timberwolves won over the Raptors. REUTERS/Eric Miller (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)
NBA basketball player Kevin Love, of the Minnesota Timberwolves, arrives at the 2011 ESPY Awards in Los Angeles, California, July 13, 2011. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT ENTERTAINMENT BASKETBALL)
Kevin Love of the Minnesota Timberwolves competes in the three-point contest during the NBA All-Star weekend in Orlando, Florida, February 25, 2012. REUTERS/Jeff Haynes (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)
NBA player Kevin Love accepts his award during the 27th Anniversary Sports Spectacular benefiting Cedars-Sinai Medical Genetics Institute at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza in Los Angeles, California May 20, 2012. REUTERS/Bret Hartman (UNITED STATES - Tags: ENTERTAINMENT SPORT BASKETBALL)
Deron Williams (L) and Kevin Love (R) both of the U.S. joke around with teammate Anthony Davis (C) during the men's preliminary round Group A basketball match against Nigeria at the Basketball Arena during the London 2012 Olympic Games August 2, 2012. REUTERS/Mike Segar (BRITAIN - Tags: OLYMPICS SPORT BASKETBALL)
Nov 16, 2013; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves power forward Kevin Love (42) smiles and congratulates Minnesota Timberwolves shooting guard Kevin Martin (23) after making a three point shot in the second half against the Boston Celtics at Target Center. The TImberwolves won 106-88. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 27, 2015; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indiana Pacers forward David West (21) is guarded by Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love (0) at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 26, 2014; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love (0) during media day at Cleveland Clinic Courts. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 2, 2015; Cleveland, OH, USA; Philadelphia 76ers forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (12) defends Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love (0) during the first quarter at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 26, 2015; Boston, MA, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love (0) injures his shoulder during the first half in game four of the first round of the NBA Playoffs against the Boston Celtics. at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 2, 2015; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love (0) juggles a loose ball during the third quarter against the Philadelphia 76ers at Wells Fargo Center. The Cavaliers won 107-100. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 23, 2015; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love (0) and forward LeBron James (23) react in the third quarter against the Orlando Magic at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
March 13, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love (0) shoots a basket against Los Angeles Clippers during the first half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 5, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) passes the ball against Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love (0) during the first quarter in game two of the NBA Finals at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 13, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love (0) enters the arena before game five of the NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
June 19, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) and forward Kevin Love (0) celebrate the 93-89 and series victory against the Golden State Warriors following game seven of the NBA Finals at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports / Reuters Picture Supplied by Action Images (TAGS: Sport Basketball NBA) *** Local Caption *** 2016-06-20T032523Z_2053546459_NOCID_RTRMADP_3_NBA-FINALS-CLEVELAND-CAVALIERS-AT-GOLDEN-STATE-WARRIORS.JPG
Nov 25, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love (0) shoots during the second half against the Dallas Mavericks at Quicken Loans Arena. The Cavs won 128-90. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
May 21, 2017; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) and forward Kevin Love (0) celebrate during the first quarter against the Boston Celtics in game three of the Eastern conference finals of the NBA Playoffs at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 25, 2017; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love (0) poses for a portrait during media day at Cleveland Clinic Courts. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - JANUARY 08: Kevin Love #0, LeBron James #23 and Jeff Green #32 of the Cleveland Cavaliers look on during the game against the Minnesota Timberwolves on January 8, 2018 at the Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
SACRAMENTO, CA - DECEMBER 27: Kevin Love #0 of the Cleveland Cavaliers looks on during the game against the Sacramento Kings on December 27, 2017 at Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)
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How long the broken bone will sideline the 29-year-old big man remains to be seen …

… but early — and, we stress, unofficial — estimates are not encouraging:

For as much stick as he tends to get in Cleveland, Love’s been playing some of the best ball of his tenure as a Cav this season, averaging 18.2 points and 9.6 rebounds in 28.5 minutes per game while shooting 46.3 percent from the field and 40.4 percent from the 3-point arc while mostly playing out of position at center. His efforts in teaming with LeBron James to keep the Cavs’ offense afloat with Kyrie Irving shipped out to Boston and Isaiah Thomas alternately sidelined and not ready for prime time earned him a second straight All-Star selection, the fifth of his career; just like last year, though, a post-voting injury will see him placed on the shelf for the midseason exhibition.

Love is the third All-Star to be taken off the board due to injury in the last five nights, joining DeMarcusCousins and JohnWall on the sideline. After naming Oklahoma City Thunder forward Paul George to replace Cousins and Detroit Pistons center Andre Drummond to step in for Wall, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver will have to make a third selection to take Love’s place. Potential candidates include Philadelphia 76ers rookie Ben Simmons, Charlotte Hornets point guard Kemba Walker and Miami Heat point guard Goran Dragic.

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NBA All-Star Game starting players
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NBA All-Star Game starting players

East captain: LeBron James

(Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

East: Giannis Antetokounmpo

(Photo by Issac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images)

East: DeMar DeRozan

(Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)

East: Joel Embiid

(Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

East: Kyrie Irving

(Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images)

West captain: Stephen Curry

(Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

West: Kevin Durant

(Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

West: Anthony Davis

(Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

West: James Harden

(Photo by Nathaniel Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)

West: DeMarcus Cousins

(Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)

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A six-to-eight-week timetable for Love would keep him on ice for between 18 and 26 games. Even for a team led by LeBron James, that’s an eternity to be without a premier rebounder, post threat, pick-and-pop shooter and complementary playmaker of Love’s caliber. It could also introduce extreme complications into the Cavs’ efforts to augment their rotation ahead of the Feb. 8 trade deadline for a playoff push — and potentially beyond, given what’s at stake for the Cavs after the end of this season:

Already struggling to maintain consistency despite a virtually unprecedented level of Year 15 production from LeBron, struggling to get stops with one of the NBA’s worst defenses, struggling to get Thomas back to health and up to full speed after seven months of hip rehab, and struggling to develop trust and cohesion as a unit, the Cavaliers will now have to try to solve all those problems without their second-best player. LeBron, Thomas, coach Tyronn Lue and general manager Koby Altman already had their work cut out for them; now, their jobs all got that much harder.

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Dan Devine is a writer and editor for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at devine@oath.com or follow him on Twitter!

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