OAKLAND, CALIF.: Kyrie Irving watched the tape of his fractured left knee with team officials and their medical staff and determined the fracture occurred when his knee banged against Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson’s in overtime of Game 1 of the NBA Finals.
Coach David Blatt originally believed it was a non-contact injury, but the film proved otherwise. Irving had successful surgery Saturday morning to repair the fracture. The procedure was performed by the Cavs’ Dr. Richard Parker and two other Cleveland Clinic physicians, Dr. Damien Billow and Dr. James Rosneck.
The Cavs insist the fracture had nothing to do with the tendinitis Irving has battled for weeks and said the torque Irving placed on his left knee with his inside cut, combined with the force of the blow from Thompson’s knee, led to the fracture.
“He’s been in that position many times before and he gets out of it,” Cavs general manager David Griffin said. “It’s how he pops up and goes in the other direction. It’s what makes him incredibly hard to guard. He can change direction in a phone booth.
“When he was going to get out of it he gets hit from the side so he couldn’t get out of it. He put more torque on the bone so it was really a unique play that way. I don’t think I can call it flukish, either, because it is a basketball play.”
The Cavs involved plenty of doctors over the past few weeks, from their own staff to the Cleveland Clinic, Dr. James Andrews and most recently, the Stanford doctors who reviewed his MRI following the fracture. There seems to be a consensus among the medical minds that the tendinitis did not lead to the fracture.
“It’s an injury that is completely separate from the nature of his previous injury,” Griffin said. “I would be naďve to say there’s absolutely no correlation because we’ll never know that. But every objective measure we have and all the different opinions that were gathered, everyone who saw the injuries all agreed there was no additional risk or he wouldn’t have been on the court.”
Need a lift?
Matthew Dellavedova missed the team bus following Game 1 of this series because he was talking to friends and family. Dellavedova has been a popular face around the Bay Area, not only for his role on the Cavs, but also because he played collegiately here at St. Mary’s.
Dellavedova had to call an Uber to take him from the Oakland arena to the team hotel in San Francisco.
“It was no big deal,” Dellavedova said. “I got a ride. All good.”
Warriors center Andrew Bogut, a fellow Australian, joked he wouldn’t have given his countryman a ride even if he knew he missed the bus. He may have during the regular season, but not the Finals.
“That’s not very nice of him,” Dellavedova said. “I’d probably give him a ride.”
How many more?
LeBron James was asked if Irving’s injury means he has to be even more aggressive on the court, which drew a chuckle from James.
“If I get more aggressive than 36 shots, I might have about 58 of them thangs,” James said. “I don’t know how much more aggressive you want me to get at this point.”
Next man up
Now that the Cavs are down to one healthy point guard, Iman Shumpert could be asked to handle some of the offense. Shumpert was a point guard in college, but hasn’t played much of it the last few years. He had mixed results (mostly negative) in his limited time as a point guard this year during the regular season, but there aren’t many options left at this point.
“Whatever the team needs,” he said.
One way the Cavs can help alleviate some of the pressure on James is to increase the movement on offense. The Cavs have been at their best when bodies — and the ball — are moving side to side. There wasn’t much of that in Game 1.
“We’ve just got to continue to have movement on the back side, continue to add more cuts to make sure they can’t load up on LeBron,” Shumpert said. “And that he has outlets just in case people are caught sleeping.”
No second chances
The Cavs did their usual job in rebounding, snagging 13 offensive rebounds thanks to six from Tristan Thompson. But they only shot 1-of-11 on second chances in Game 1.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr thought his team got lucky on some of the Cavs’ misses.
“Our focus is on the offensive rebound itself. We want to limit their second chances,” Kerr said. “Obviously they’re a great rebounding team. They crushed us in the first quarter. They kept getting second opportunities and they missed some shots. They had some wide open ones that they missed, and we were lucky.”