INDEPENDENCE, Ohio — More than halfway through a scheduled week of rest between the end of the conference finals and start of the NBA Finals, the Cleveland Cavaliers are still unsure about Kyrie Irving‘s status for Game 1 of the NBA Finals.
“We got a few more days until the first game,” coach David Blatt said Monday when asked if Irving will be on any kind of minutes restriction for the start of the series Thursday against the Golden State Warriors.
“We’re just hoping he can get out there and play and then we’ll address all those things.”
Irving had an apparent breakthrough in Game 4 against Atlanta, scoring 16 points and dishing five assists in 22 minutes after missing the previous two games because of left knee tendinitis.
And the All-Star point guard expressed confidence in his health late last week, saying he was “in a good spot,” but he has not been able to put the injury completely behind him with the championship round looming.
Irving said he would not be 100 percent for the Finals “unless something miraculous happens,” adding, “It’s just like I said before, I’m going to keep saying it, it’s a day-by-day thing. I’m going to continue to get treatment and do what it takes.”
His treatment, which was altered after a trip to see Dr. James Andrews in Florida during the Hawks series, has centered around exercises to strengthen muscles surrounding the knee, but it hasn’t been a cure-all.
“I wouldn’t say he’s had a setback, but progress has been slow,” Blatt said.
The coach has kept Irving out of portions of the Cavs’ on-court workouts leading up to the Finals, characterizing Irving’s participation as “moderate” thus far.
LeBron James said last week that he would prefer having Irving on the court at “50 or 60 percent” than not having him at all and reiterated that stance Monday.
“Whatever we can get out of him,” James said. “I think he’s preparing to play Game 1. Whatever we can get out of him is a plus for us. He’s been dealing with injuries throughout the whole postseason. 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. So whatever we can get from Kyrie is a plus.”
Irving is averaging 18.7 points in the playoffs and shooting 48.1 percent from 3 despite the persistent knee pain.
“You know, he’s not out of the woods entirely,” Blatt said. “On the other hand, obviously he played significant minutes in all the games. He’s playing through it and has been doing a great job.”
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