Cavs’ Irving hopes to return this season
CLEVELAND (AP) Kyrie Irving managed to find a silver lining – and a sliver of hope for the Cavaliers’ playoff chances – while dealing with his latest injury.
The All-Star point guard will miss at least two weeks with a strained biceps tendon, but he’s hopeful his season is not over.
”If you could take a positive from the situation, obviously that would be one, that at this point, I don’t have to get surgery, which is tremendous,” Irving said following shootaround Tuesday at the Cleveland Clinic Courts.
Cleveland’s leading scorer got hurt Sunday night in a loss against the Los Angeles Clippers. An MRI taken Monday revealed the strain, but not a tear, which would have ended Irving’s season. It’s still not a certainty he’ll be back, but the Cavs will rest him for two weeks before making any decisions.
With 15 games left, the Cavs enter their home matchup against Miami five games behind Atlanta for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. It was going to be a challenge for the Cavs to make up any ground with Irving, and now without him, they’re in a major bind.
The 21-year-old was trying to strip the ball from Clippers forward Blake Griffin when his tendon gave out.
”One of those freak plays against a strong individual in Blake,” Irving said. ”I tried to get the ball out of his hands. I knew something was wrong when I came to the bench. Obviously, I just felt just a weird feeling after that play in my shoulder. My arm looked a little different in the biceps area. That’s when I knew that I strained it.”
Irving will miss at least eight games. He’s already sat out 41 in three NBA seasons, leading some to label him as injury prone.
It’s still possible he may need an operation, but Irving is trying to be optimistic.
”We’ll see in two weeks,” he said. ”I’m not going to give a definitive answer because I don’t know that answer. At this point, I’m just going to continue to support my teammates and be on the sideline. Whatever the medical team needs me to do and whatever’s in my best interests, I’m going to do.”
With his best player out, Cavs coach Mike Brown will start Dion Waiters in the backcourt with Jarrett Jack. Cleveland could get back C.J. Miles, who has missed 12 games with a sprained ankle.
Waiters has provided a spark off the bench all season, and said he’s going start with the same mindset he’s had as a reserve.
”Just going out there playing my game, let everything come to me,” he said. ”Don’t go out there and try to press and do things I normally don’t do. Just play the game and have fun.”
Waiters says all the Cavs have to step it up with Irving sidelined.
”Kyrie is the best player on the team,” Waiters said. ”But it gives other guys the chance to play and show coach things they can do. We’ve got to pick it up. Everybody has to be together and play for each other. That’s the biggest thing losing a huge piece like that. We have to play the game, move the ball and have fun out there.”