The Cleveland Cavaliers have simply looked disarmed in this final stretch of the season. They’re currently one of the worst defensive teams in the NBA (110.2 Defensive Rating; 22nd overall), especially since the All-Star break.
And after suffering for what some would say a “surprising” 100-114 upset from the Atlanta Hawks on Friday, the hole keeps digging deeper for the defending champions — as we’re just days away from the upcoming postseason.
But as more unfortunate news begin to surface, All-Star guard Kyrie Irving is reportedly experiencing soreness in his surgically-repaired knee.
Irving headed to the locker room during the third quarter of Friday’s game, with Cleveland still being at-reach to win the game. The Hawks were up 79-74 with 1:22 remaining in the third.
Injuries certainly aren’t new for the four-time All-Star. Most notably, this was the same knee which was fractured in the 2015 NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors. This left the Cavaliers with minimal hope, as they also lost Kevin Love earlier in the postseason. The Warriors ended up winning in six, resulting in their first title in over 40 years.
Irving described the preparation needed in order to remain healthy, and to put it lightly, it’s a process:
“I mean it’s never easy, even the year after, just to realize that you have plates and screws in your knee and stuff like that,” Irving said via RealGM
“It just, I don’t want it to feel sore anymore but it’s just the realization of it,” Irving said. “I’m doing everything possible to take care of my body, I’ve got a clear conscience with that. But also understand that sometimes it’s gonna hurt. And I gotta be able to deal with it.”
Irving should be able to play on Sunday’s rematch against he Hawks, but it shouldn’t surprise anyone if he ends up missing any time.
“So the next few days are pretty important. Tomorrow and then playing in Atlanta and Miami, and then just doing everything possible to prepare.”
Irving, who just turned 25, has been having one of his best seasons in his six-year career. Averaging a career-high 24.9 points, 3.2 rebounds, 5.8 assists, and 1.2 steals, on 47% field-goals and 39% three-point, and 90% free-throws — which is also a career-best.
But most importantly, this has also been one of Irving healthiest seasons in his career. While playing just 53 games in 2015-16, he’s played a considerable 71 games in 2016-17.
If all else goes wrong, the Cavaliers will need a healthy Kyrie Irving to make a deep postseason run. The last thing they need is for him to be on the sidelines.