Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving will miss the rest of the NBA Finals with a fractured left kneecap sustained in the Cavs’ Game 1 overtime loss to the Golden State Warriors on Thursday.
Irving had an MRI Friday morning at the Stanford Sports Medicine Clinic, and he will undergo surgery in the next few days at the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland.
His projected recovery time is 3-4 months, the Cavs said in a news release, and the Cavs’ championship aspirations took a significant hit with the latest news. The city’s 51-year drought without a major professional sports championship may not end in June.
Irving sustained the injury with 2:23 left in overtime as he tried to dribble past Golden State guard Klay Thompson. Irving lost his footing and he immediately was in pain.
Irving, who has been bothered by tendinitis in that same knee, said repeatedly after the game that the injury felt different than tendinitis. He left the arena on crutches.
Playoff injuries have hit the Cavaliers hard. They lost Kevin Love (dislocated left shoulder) for the season in Game 4 against the Boston Celtics in the first round.
“There are a few things that you would love to have going late in the season. That’s being healthy, having a great rhythm, and then you need a little luck as well,” Cavs star LeBron James said.
“We’ve had a great rhythm. We haven’t had much luck, and we haven’t been healthy. But I haven’t gotten discouraged. I understand the moment that I’m in, and I’m not too much worried about the game. I’m worried about the moment. I’m happy with the moment. I’m excited to be in this moment once again, and I’m going to stay strong for my team, no matter who is or is not in the lineup.”
Now, the Cavaliers will again rely on backup guard Matthew Dellavedova, who played significant minutes against the Chicago Bulls in the conference semifinals and against the Atlanta Hawks in the conference finals as Irving battled tendinitis.
“You all saw he played terrifically,” Cavs coach David Blatt said Friday. “Matty has been a rotation player for us the whole year. He stepped in and did a great job, and the team believes in him and we believe in him. If necessary, he has to play significant minutes again, he’ll be ready, and we’ll know how to play with him.”
Earlier on Friday as the team waited for the official word on point guard Kyrie Irving and whether his left knee injury would keep him out of action in Game 2 on Sunday, and perhaps beyond, coach David Blatt told USA TODAY Sports that he was not optimistic about the situation.
“Not good,” he said when asked about Irving’s status after he re-injured the left knee that has ailed him in recent weeks. “I don’t know that for a fact because the result hasn’t come back, but my feeling is not good.”
He wasn’t the only one bracing for the worst.
Before the Cavs announced the injury, a different person familiar with the situation told USA TODAY Sports that Irving is not expected to play in Game 2 regardless of the MRI results. The person requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly until the Cavs made an official announcement on Irving’s knee. Irving, who has averaged 19 points per game in the playoffs, had 23 points in the series opener before he was hurt in the fourth quarter.
As if the prospect of beating the Golden State Warriors wasn’t challenging enough, the Cavs now find themselves facing not only the possible loss of their three-time All-Star point guard but an internal conflict that certainly can’t help matters. While the Cavs and Irving’s dad both want what’s best for Irving, they are clearly not the same page.
In a stressful moment in the locker room after Game 1, Irving’s dad, Drederick, spent time in private room with Kyrie and Cavs front office personnel. Irving’s dad slammed the door as left the room.
Later outside of the locker room, Drederick shunned Cavs GM David Griffin’s attempt to talk to him and motioned for Griffin to talk to Irving’s agent Jeff Wechsler. When asked about the situation, Blatt shrugged and shook his head.
“You’ve got to talk to the people who are closer to that,” Blatt told USA TODAY Sports about the situation. “I’m not involved in that whole agent-Dad thing. It’s unfortunate.”
As is the prospect that these Finals will go on without Irving on the floor.
SOURCE: USA Today – Sam Amick and Jeff Zillgitt