Kyrie Irving is resigned to not being 100 per cent for the Cavaliers in the NBA Finals.
“Unless something miraculous happens,” he said.
Cleveland can’t count on that.
The all-star guard has been kept out of portions of practice in the past few days as he continues to recover from tendinitis in his left knee, a condition that flared up earlier in the post-season and sidelined him from two games in the Eastern Conference finals. On Monday, Irving said he’s continued to receive treatment during the break before Game 1, but he sounded less enthused about his progress than last week when he insisted there were “no ifs ands or buts” whether he would play.
“It’s a day-by-day thing,” he said. “I’m going to continue to get treatment and do what it takes.”
Cavaliers coach David Blatt wouldn’t comment on how much he thinks Irving will be able to play against Golden State.
“We got a few more days until the first game,” Blatt said when asked whether Irving will have his minutes restricted. “We’re just hoping he can get out there and play and then we’ll address all those things. I wouldn’t say he’s had a setback, but progress has been slow.”
Blatt said Irving has done “pretty well” in practice, but he’s clearly not himself. Irving doesn’t have the same burst on drives to the basket and he’s avoided any contact to protect his tender knee. During the period the media has seen him following practice, Irving has mostly worked on his shooting.
“He’s not out of the woods entirely,” Blatt said. “He’s playing through it and has been doing a great job.”
Irving’s knee issues arose while he was favouring a sprained right foot he injured in the opening round against Boston. He aggravated the knee in Game 6 at Chicago. After visiting renowned surgeon Dr James Andrews in Florida, he sat two games in Cleveland’s sweep of Atlanta and played 22 minutes in the clinching win.
Irving is averaging 18.7 points in his first NBA post-season. The Cavs need him to play well against the Warriors and league MVP Stephen Curry. The lay-off has helped, but it’s still not long enough to get Irving all the way back.
“Whatever we can get out of him is a plus for us,” James said. “He’s been getting some good work in, off to the side at times. He’s played a little bit with us, but not much.”
It’s possible Matthew Dellavedova will start for Irving, who could be reduced to a reserve role against the Warriors. Dellavedova started both games Irving missed against the Hawks, averaging 14 points and making four three-pointers.
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