We’re talking ‘bout practice …
The Cavaliers are coming off a successful road trip heading into the homestretch, but they didn’t come through unscathed. As the Wine and Gold welcome the World Champs to The Q for the last time this year, they’ll do so without their All-Star guard.
Kyrie Irving, who suffered a strain in the long head tendon of his left biceps in the first quarter of Sunday’s contest with the Clippers, is obviously the most noteworthy. He will miss the next two weeks, at which point he’ll be re-evaluated by the team’s medical staff. The injury’s status after that two week period will then determine the most appropriate course of treatment and recovery plan.
”I knew something was wrong when I came to the bench,” said Irving, recalling Sunday’s injury. “Obviously, I just felt, it was just a weird feeling after that play. I went back and my arm looked a little different in the bicep area. That’s when I kind of knew I strained it.”
After dedicating himself in the weight room this offseason, Irving has been very durable in his third year in the league. After missing 15 games in his rookie year and 23 as a sophomore, Kyrie has started all but three games in 2013-14, missing three contests after suffering a left knee contusion in a New Year’s Eve loss in Indiana.
“It’s definitely disappointing, but, like I said, if you could take a positive from this situation, I’m just glad that I don’t have to go the surgical route at this point,” added Irving.
Irving has been sensational this season. He continues to be the top-scoring point guard in the Eastern Conference at 21.2 ppg and is just one of four players in the league to average at least 21 points and six assists per contest.
”It’s not too painful at this point,” said Kyrie following Tuesday’s shootaround. It’s not like anything was torn in my rotator cuff or in my shoulder or anything like that. It was just an isolated injury in my bicep.”
Watch Interview: Kyrie Irving
Coach Mike Brown has the task of making due without the 2014 All-Star MVP, but he’s always maintained a measured ‘next-man-up’ attitude on injuries – and his first move this week will be to re-insert Dion Waiters into the starting lineup, starting with tonight’s matchup at The Q.
“I think anytime anybody gets injured, you’re confident in the other guy, you’re confident in the process, you’re confident in the doctors that we have, but in the same breath, I have to coach who’s available,” said Brown. “So we have to attack this thing going forward with who’s available in uniform.”
Waiters started the first nine games for the Cavs this season before moving to the second unit, where he became the top-scoring reserve in the Eastern Conference at 14.7 ppg. He’ll move back into the starting lineup alongside Jarrett Jack – and Coach Brown has some specific instructions for his sophomore guard.“The same thing that we’ve been preaching to (Waiters) coming off the bench: We want (him) to run the floor, we don’t want him coming back for the basketball, because it slows the break down when he have two guys coming back for the ball. But, run the floor, run to the corners, rebound – because he’s got good size and athleticism and strength – and keep attacking.”
Waiters is no stranger to the starting lineup, where he appeared 48 times as a rookie. And he’ll be teamed up with an eight-year veteran in Jarrett Jack, who’s assumed much of the point guard responsibilities alongside Irving since entering the starting lineup on February 1.
“I’m going to go in there with the same mindset I had off the bench: Go in there and kill,” said Waiters.
The Cavaliers are reaping the benefits of having a veteran like Jarrett Jack as they’ve worked through some backcourt injuries this season – including those to Waiters, Irving and CJ Miles, who’s trying to bounce back from a left ankle sprain suffered on February 19 (but could see action on Tuesday night or later this week).
“We’re comfortable playing together; we’re used to playing with one another,” said Waiters of his backcourt mate. “I know Jack, he’s looking up, looking to push the tempo. So I just have to get out and run. And it’s vice-versa, if I get the ball, he’ll get out and run. (We’ll) just try to keep them on their heels all night.”
The Cavs will have to deal with the injury bug against a trio of tough opponents, starting with Tuesday’s matchup with Miami. But it shouldn’t be a surprise that Waiters is undaunted by the tall task at hand. When asked if it’ll be difficult getting back into the starting lineup against a future Hall-of-Famer, Dion was typically unfazed.
“I think it’s more exciting than difficult – just going up against a guy like that, somebody you’ve always looked up to."
The excitement begins for Dion and Co. at 7 p.m. at The Q.
Listen as Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters and Head Coach Mike Brown give you the latest from shootaround.