Perhaps the most important variable for the Cleveland Cavaliers as they prepare for the NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors is the health of point guard Kyrie Irving. Irving has missed chunks of practice this week, and it is unlikely that he will be 100 percent come Game 1 Thursday.
From NEOMG’s Chris Haynes:
The tendinitis in his left knee hasn’t healed in a timely fashion, limiting his participation in practice. Cavs coach David Blatt says he has been forced to hold him out of portions of practice in an effort not to overwork his knee.
“I wouldn’t say he’s had a setback, but progress has been slow,” Blatt revealed.
Irving has been dealing with tendinitis in his left knee and a strain in his right foot, and he missed Games 2 and 3 against the Atlanta Hawks in the Eastern Conference Finals. He played 49 minutes total in Games 1 and 4, averaging 13.0 points and 5.5 assists while shooting 47.6 percent from the field.
Irving seems resigned to the fact that he won’t be at his best, but he also sounds determined to make the most of his first trip to the Finals.
“Unless something miraculous happens,” Irving answered when asked if he can be 100 percent by Thursday. “Just like I said before, and I’m going to keep saying it, it’s a day‑by‑day thing. Continue to get treatment and do what it takes.”
“I feel like I’m in a good place,” he said. “I’m just going to continue to do the things necessary in order to prepare my body for The Finals.”
“These days are very, very important for me, especially going into The Finals,” Irving said. “I want to feel as close to my old self as I could. They’re very important, but from the flip side as well, preparing for a great team like that, you need as many days as you can.”
The Cavs will need Kyrie to be at least a facsimile of his All-Star self to have a shot against the league-best Warriors, particularly if and when he is called upon to defend Stephen Curry. The Warriors backcourt has caused opponents heaps of problems all year. A healthy Irving will go a long way toward the Cavaliers finding a solution.
[Related: Know Your Foe – Stephen Curry]