Irving will miss at least two weeks with a strained tendon in his left biceps, a major blow to Cleveland's chances of making the NBA playoffs with only a month left in the regular season.
Irving got hurt during the first half of Sunday night's loss to the Los Angeles Clippers. The All-Star point guard did not return after missing all five shots and leaving the game for medical evaluation and treatment. He flew back with the Cavaliers and Monday underwent an MRI, which revealed "a strain in the long head tendon" of his biceps, the Cavs said in a release.
The 21-year-old will be shut down for two weeks and re-evaluated. The Cavs said the tendon's response "will determine the most appropriate course of treatment."
Irving's injury couldn't come at a worse time for the Cavs.
He'll miss at least eight of the final 15 games, and without their leading scorer and best player, it will be tough for the Cavs (26-41) to clinch the eighth playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Cleveland begins the week 4 1-2 games behind Atlanta, and the Cavs have a difficult schedule ahead with Miami, Oklahoma City and Houston in town over the next five days.
And, equally troubling, is that Irving is again missing significant time due to an injury.
He sat out 38 games his first two seasons with a variety of injuries, including a broken nose, fractured jaw, broken finger, sprained shoulder and concussion. One of Irving's goals was to play in all 82 games this season, but he's already missed three with a bruised knee and is expected to sit for eight more.
Irving has scoffed at the notion that he is injury prone, but he hasn't made it through a full season and he was also sidelined during the summer after his rookie season when he broke his hand slamming it into a padded wall during a practice in Las Vegas.
Irving's injury issues predated him turning pro as he played in just 11 games as a freshman at Duke because of a foot injury.
Most of Irving's injuries have been unavoidable and bad luck because he plays hard and is unafraid to drive to the basket and draw contact from bigger, stronger players. It's not clear exactly when Irving was hurt on Sunday night.
As the Cavs move forward they'll have to factor Irving's spotty medical history into their decision as to whether or not to offer him a maximum-year contract extension this summer.
Cleveland hasn't made the playoffs since 2010, and this was supposed be the year the Cavs returned to the postseason and stayed out of the draft lottery. However, the club has underachieved in coach Mike Brown's second stint and owner Dan Gilbert fired general manager Chris Grant last month.
Now without Irving, the Cavs' climb has gotten even steeper.