Injuries to Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving and Hawks forward DeMarre Carroll overshadow the build-up to Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals.
Dale Zanine/Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
ATLANTA — In an Eastern Conference finals matchup defined by injury questions leading into Game 2, the Cleveland Cavaliers received worse health-related news during the pregame. Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving added to his team’s growing injury list as he was held out of Game 2 of the due to tendinitis in his left knee.
However, Atlanta Hawks forward DeMarre Carroll, who was listed as questionable after spraining his left knee during Game 1, was inserted into his team’s starting lineup.
Irving has been limited by both knee tendinitis and a foot strain over the past few weeks, calling the injury-hampered postseason run the most frustrating stretch of his career.
The Third-Team All-NBA point guard confirmed he tweaked the injury in Game 1 and missed his team’s shootaround Friday to undergo further tests on his knee with famed orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews. The Cavaliers’ team release said the "symptoms related to his left knee tendonitis had not diminished."
The Cavaliers took a 1-0 series lead on Wednesday with a 97-89 win.
"It was a decision on the part of the medical staff that it was best to hold him out," Cavaliers coach David Blatt said. "We’re evaluating as we go forward here and hopeful we can get him back in there (later in the series)."
Irving was clearly limited during Cleveland’s Game 1 win, logging slightly more than 27 minutes of playing time — most coming in the first half. He finished the game with 10 points and six assists, functioning more as a spot-up shooter than the attacking guard opponents are accustomed to seeing.
With Irving inactive, the Cavaliers are down two of their "Big Three," with Kevin Love already sidelined following season-ending shoulder surgery. Irving’s absence likely means more minutes for backup Matthew Dellevedova, who received the starting nod, as well as James Jones and reserve star of Game 1, J.R. Smith.
While Irving is the three-time All-Star, Carroll’s injury status was arguably more pressing. After sustaining the knee injury on a transition drive with five minutes remaining in Game 1, Carroll, LeBron James’s primary defender for the Hawks, underwent X-Rays and an MRI to confirm the knee sprain, but his playing status was listed as questionable at the team’s shootaround. After participating in warmups and undergoing treatment prior to gametime, Carroll was a last-minute addition into the starting five.
Carroll has been the Hawks’ most consistent option on offense in the playoffs, averaging a team-high 16.2 points per game.