Kyrie Irving refuses to sit out despite right foot, left knee ailments

ByDave McMenamin via ESPN logo
Monday, May 11, 2015
ESPN

INDEPENDENCE, Ohio -- Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving, already suffering from a strained right foot, underwent an MRI on Monday morning that revealed tendinitis in his left knee, according to the team.

Irving said his left leg started to bother him as he overcompensated for his sore right foot, an injury that he first aggravated nearly three weeks ago in Game 2 of the Cavs' first-round sweep of the Boston Celtics.

Irving's injuries started to show in the Cavs' past two games in the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Chicago Bulls. He shot a combined 5-for-23 from the field and handed out just two assists in the two games, telling reporters he was limited by a lack of acceleration.

Still, Irving totaled 79 minutes in the two games, at times acting as a decoy and still commanding the defense's attention even in his compromised state. He said he won't allow himself to consider sitting out a game at this point after all he's been through already.

"If the consideration is now, then, I mean, I should have been sitting out maybe about four games ago," Irving said. "I just ... I can't do it. Mentally, I can't do it. I can't look myself in the mirror and sit on the bench or sit in the locker room while I watch my teammates go out there.

"I'd rather give 30 percent, 40 percent, rather than give none at all. I just literally can't do it. I can't sit on the bench and be hurt and be OK with that. And still, I still know I can be effective. So whether I got to the free throw line eight times [like he did in Game 3, going 8-for-8], which I'm still happy about ... My jumper may not be falling or the legs under me, but I'm just going to continue to just go."

Cavs coach David Blatt said he was "hopeful" that Irving could improve as the playoffs continue but was realistic about the injuries that his point guard is battling.

"I don't expect him to wake up today or tomorrow feeling 100 percent, but I'm just hopeful that he's able to get to the gym, get to the court feeling a little bit better, and I'm appreciative of the fact that he's out there regardless," Blatt said. "[He is] laying it on the line and giving us everything he has, even without being 100 percent."

Blatt said up to this point he hasn't thought about sitting Irving out and joked that he would be comfortable doing so if necessary, but only after the season was over.

Irving said he, along with the Cavs' training staff, has exhausted all rehabilitation options.

"I'm going to be 100 percent honest, we've tried almost everything to get this feeling right," Irving said. "When the right foot injury happened, what I was most nervous about is what's happening now. My left leg just compensating for my right one. It's just my body talking to me. My mind just has to be stronger, and it is. I'm just going to continue to will myself through these playoff games the best I can."

With Irving ailing and LeBron James (left ankle) and Iman Shumpert (left groin) nursing injuries of their own, the Cavs did not conduct a full practice Monday.

James said he watched the replay from when he rolled his ankle when colliding with Derrick Rose in the third quarter of Game 4 numerous times since Sunday.

"I don't know how I finished the game," said James.

Despite his surprise, James said "nothing" about his play would be limited in Tuesday's Game 5 because of his ankle.

James was asked if this was the most injury-stricken team he's played on in his 10 trips to the postseason and said that it was, but added, "There's nothing we can change about it. It's not like we can hit a button to get us back to 100 percent."

As for Irving's percentage, Blatt said it doesn't matter.

"We're better with him at whatever percent you want to call him than we would be without him, I know that," Blatt said. "[He's] 100 percent in our hearts and whatever percent you want to call him from a physical aspect."

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