Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving suffered a huge setback on Thursday night after re-injuring his knee in the Game 1 loss to the Golden State Warriors.
Irving block on Curry: (Video) Critical play at end of regulation.
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Draymond Green dunk: (Video) Warriors stop throws it down with authority.
The 23-year-old is set to undergo an MRI scan on Friday which will reveal the full extent of the problem, but he didn’t sound optimistic when speaking to reporters after the game.
Whether it is an issue that rules him out of featuring in games or merely limits him further, it is a significant blow for the Cavs as they now have to figure out how to come back from losing the opener.
Irving was everywhere on Thursday night, whether it was shooting, with assists, stealing the ball or blocking shots at the end of regulation. Despite all the talk about playing through the pain barrier, he was a key reason as to why Cleveland were able to perform so well.
Taking the Cavs point guard out of the equation entirely or to the point where he is limited will only further strengthen Golden State’s chances of securing their first title in 40 years.
Not even 44 points from LeBron James was enough to get the job done at the Oracle Arena, and many have suggested that Cleveland have already missed their best chance of winning on the road in this series.
James was sensational in Game 1, but it proved that he can’t do it all himself and he needs someone to step up alongside him to ensure that the team prevails and they don’t just look back on a great individual performance.
JR Smith, Iman Shumpert and even Matthew Dellavedova have provided that spark through the playoffs, but this is an entirely different proposition and the Warriors have a defensive unit capable of shutting them down to the point where they aren’t decisive.
With Andre Iguodala, Draymond Green and Andrew Bogut all playing roles in slowing down LeBron, it will be up to one of his teammates to be that reliable second option to ensure that it isn’t all just on his shoulders.
However, then there is also the question of putting Dellavedova in for extended minutes against Stephen Curry. While the Australian did an impressive job on Derrick Rose back in the Eastern Conference semi-finals, we’re talking about the reigning league MVP who will catch fire the second he is afforded space.
Irving being out isn’t the end of the road for Cleveland, but it certainly makes their lives a lot more difficult moving forward if he can’t contribute in the way he did before that unfortunate setback in overtime on Thursday night.