Even before he was injured Sunday at Toronto, Kyrie Irving and Cavaliers coach Byron Scott made it a goal for Irving to really devote his summer to the weight room in an effort to get stronger. His latest injury once again illustrates why.
Irving is expected to miss three to four weeks and could miss the rest of the season with an AC sprain in his left shoulder suffered Sunday. Since there are just 5½ weeks left in the season, there remains the possibility Irving’s season will again be cut short by a significant injury.
Irving was injured in the third quarter Sunday when he crashed into Raptors rookie Jonas Valanciunas while driving to the basket. He stayed in the game long enough to shoot two one-handed free throws, but he had difficulty moving the shoulder and grimaced while touching it.
Irving’s re-evaluation at the Cleveland Clinic on Monday diagnosed the shoulder sprain, although Scott didn’t want to speculate whether Irving has played his final game this season.
“We’ll have to wait until this completely heals and go from there,” Scott said.
Irving’s injury list continues to grow. He missed 15 games due to injuries and illness last season and has already missed 14 games this season, with the potential of missing the final 19, too.
Since the Cavs selected him No. 1 overall in 2011, Irving has suffered a concussion, a fractured wrist, injured both shoulders, hyperextended his knee and fractured a finger.
He also broke a bone in his jaw this season but played through the injury without missing a game thanks to a protective mask. Irving missed most of his one season at Duke with a toe injury and battled problems with his right shoulder while in high school. He missed 10 games after spraining his right shoulder last season.
Scott continues to insist he isn’t concerned over Irving’s growing injury history.
Even before the latest injury, the two spoke about Irving getting in the weight room this summer and making a concerted effort to get stronger.
“He’s still very young. His body hasn’t fully developed,” Scott said. “I’m just not that concerned about it. All the injuries that he’s gotten have been legitimate injuries. It’s not something that keeps recurring over and over. From what I saw [Sunday] night with the hip check, it was just an unfortunate foul that hit him right on the spot. I’m not concerned about it right now.”
The Cavs have an open spot on their 15-man roster and could look to bring in another point guard. For now, Shaun Livingston will start and Dion Waiters will serve as his backup. The injury creates a spot for Daniel Gibson to return to the rotation, Scott said.
“I think that everybody understands that each guy has to pick it up a little bit more, it’s not going to be one guy that can take over all the things that Kyrie brings to the table so we’ll have to do it by committee,” Scott said. “It’s as simple as that. The core of our rotation is Shaun and Dion and Wayne and Boobie, so we’ll see how it works.”
The Cavs still don’t have any answers for why they’ve struggled so badly at the start of the second half in recent games. Within the past four games, they’ve lost twice after blowing double-digit leads built in the first half.
They’ve lost four of their past five in large part to how poorly they’ve played coming out of the locker room after the half.
They’ve led at the half in three of the last four games and lost all three.
“We’ve been getting punched in the face and we’ve taken backsteps,” Scott said. “You’ve got to throw a few punches as well — not literally. You’ve got to go right back at them and sometimes we’re on our heels for the most part in the third quarter. Then we’re down and all of a sudden we start playing again. We don’t have the luxury of trying to turn on that light switch to where all of a sudden we’re right back in the game. We don’t have that type of talent yet.”