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Donovan Mitchell’s left knee injury might keep the All-Star guard out longer than the Cavaliers initially estimated.

Coach J.B. Bickerstaff provided some clarity about Mitchell’s injury — deemed a bone bruise by the team — on Tuesday night, saying it had built up over time. Mitchell, who leads Cleveland in scoring and led the team through a tough stretch of injuries, will miss at least three games.

Bickerstaff indicated Mitchell could be out more than that.

“I expect him to be back before a month,” Bickerstaff said before the Cavs hosted the Eastern Conference-leading Boston Celtics, who have won 11 straight games. “I don’t like to overstep my bounds, but at the end of the three games, they’ll reevaluate and then we’ll make a decision from there.

“I’m hopeful and do not expect this to be a long break, but we will always do what’s best by our guys to make sure they’re healthy.”

Mitchell leads the Cavs in scoring (28.0 points per game) and is putting up career-best numbers in rebounds, assists and steals during his second season with Cleveland. The 27-year-old carried the Cavs while Darius Garland (broken jaw) and Evan Mobley (knee surgery) were out six weeks with injuries.

While the team said Mitchell has a bone bruise, Bickerstaff indicated the injury developed over several weeks.

“It’s more of a wear-and-tear thing,” Bickerstaff said. “It was like a tendinitis-type thing that kind of just flared up. So it’s not something that just happened, but something that just built over time.”

The Cavs are hoping a platelet-rich plasma injection Mitchell received on Monday will speed up his return.

Until then, Cleveland, which is currently No. 3 in the East, will have to cope without its best player and leader.

“You’re always obviously concerned, but we’re confident and these next steps would be the steps that are necessary,” Bickerstaff said. “It was one of those things where he was trying to play through it, but he just was hampered and you could see he couldn’t explode.

“He couldn’t move going certain directions because of the pain and how it was limited. I’m not a doctor, but from everything that I’m hearing, the time, the rest and the process should get him back to full strength.”

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Reporting by The Associated Press.

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