CLEVELAND: Cavaliers forward Kevin Love will consult with specialists at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York to discuss treatment options after he fractured the fifth metacarpal in his left hand in Tuesday night’s loss in Detroit.

A timetable for Love’s return remains uncertain until it is determined if surgery is necessary.

When he dislocated his left shoulder during the 2015 playoffs, Love had surgery at the same hospital, with Dr. David W. Altchek performing the operation.

Cavs coach Tyronn Lue started Jae Crowder in place of Love in Wednesday night’s home game against the Miami Heat. Lue said with Crowder elevated from the second unit for some games, Derrick Rose will be the player whose minutes will get the biggest bump.

Love was excused from attending the game as he awaits the scheduling of his appointment in New York. Love will see specialist Michelle Carlson and surgery could be scheduled as soon as Thursday. That would likely involve the insertion of hardware to stabilize the fracture.

Love was named to his fifth All-Star Game last week. He is averaging 17.9 points and 9.4 rebounds, shooting .463 from the field and .404 from 3-point range in 28 minutes over 48 games. Love is tied with LeBron James for the team lead with 27 double-doubles, which ranks sixth in the NBA.

Asked what Love means to the Cavs, Lue said Wednesday: “He won a championship here. He’s been in three straight Finals. He’s been a big part of what we do, being an All-Star, being able to stretch the floor, being able to post guys and then rebound the basketball. He’s been great for us.

“If you think back to when he first came here, he’s the one that really had to sacrifice and give himself to the team and understand that when we played through LeBron and Kyrie [Irving], he had to sacrifice the most. For him to do that and win the championship and become the player he has become here has been great. I respect him a lot and I know a lot of his teammates do and we’re going to miss him. He’s valuable to what we do on this team and it’s going to be tough, but we just gotta pull together and get through it.”

Tristan Thompson said Love was hurt when he was trying to throw Love “a high-low” pass and Love got fouled, although a foul wasn’t called.

“I feel bad, especially a freak accident like that,” Thompson said after the loss at Little Caesars Arena.

James said when he saw Love’s hand swelling, he feared it was broken. Love left the game with 7:19 left in the first quarter to have it X-rayed and James said the Cavs learned the news before they left the court at halftime.

It is the third broken hand in Love’s career, the first two with the Minnesota Timberwolves. He missed 62 games in 2012-13 after fracturing the third and fourth metacarpals in his right hand and later refracturing the third. In 2009-10, he broke the fourth metacarpal in his left hand and missed the season’s first 18 games.

Love was also sidelined for 16 games last season after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his left knee on Feb. 14.

“It’s a huge blow for our team, obviously,” James said Tuesday of Love’s injury. “We’re already limited in our bigs, anyway. We’ll be getting a lot smaller now.”

Crowder’s challenge

Lue said his decisions on who to start at power forward will be based on matchups. He elected to go with Crowder because the Heat start small with 6-8 James Johnson at the 4.

Lue said Crowder should focus on helping center Tristan Thompson with rebounding.

“He’s going to have some tough matchups as far as guarding, so he’s used to that and he’s capable of doing that, so we’re excited for him to do that,” Lue said.

Crowder has looked more comfortable shooting of late. In the last five games, he’s made 18-of-35 (.514) from the field and 8-of-18 (.444) from deep.

“Just really taking what the defense gives me, I guess, and stepping into shots,” Crowder said Tuesday. “My role still fluctuates on a nightly basis. Sometimes I feel good, sometimes I don’t.”

Acquired Aug. 22 with Isaiah Thomas in the trade with the Boston Celtics for Irving, Crowder could still be struggling to fit into the Cavs system, Lue said.

“It could be at times,” Lue said. “If we’re getting stops and playing with pace, that’s when him and J.R. [Smith] and those guys are getting shots, when we’re moving bodies and moving the basketball. When we’re not getting stops and we’re bad defensively, that’s when him and J.R. and those guys struggle.”

Crowder didn’t want to consider how much might fall on him with Love out.

“I’m not going to get caught up in starting or coming off the bench. Just get the game plan from the coaches and go from there,” he said Tuesday. “I don’t want to get into that right now.”

LeBron honored

LeBron James was presented the December NBA Cares Community Assist Award before the game.

During the holidays, James announced the creation of the I Promise School, which will open in partnership with Akron Public Schools this fall. He surprised families of future students with access to health care services through a partnership with the Crystal Clinic. James hosted hundreds of students for a trip on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad’s Polar Express and donated toys to kindergartners and first- and second-graders in Akron Public Schools.

Marla Ridenour can be reached at mridenour@thebeaconjournal.com.