Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving has insisted that he will play in Game 1 against the Atlanta Hawks despite struggling with a knee issue.
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Irving aggravated his left knee in the close-out game against the Chicago Bulls last week, which in turn prevented him from featuring in the second half of the win which sealed a 4-2 series victory.
While the point guard later insisted that he would have been able to play if the team really needed him, he has benefited from four days rest and is confident that he has recovered enough to take his place in the starting line-up on Wednesday night.
“I’m going to go,” Irving said, ESPN reports.
“I would say just my spirits and mental confidence, just being able to actually feel both my feet underneath me, especially when I’m shooting, it feels amazing. You know, just a confidence of getting extra work in and just preparing with my teammates. I think that’s the biggest thing I get out of it. I don’t want to be on the sideline at all, especially preparing for a big stage like this. I want to be as close to 100 percent before Wednesday as I can be, so just doing the necessary things in order to do that.”
The 23-year-old has been struggling with knee tendinitis and a foot strain throughout the post-season, which has impacted on his influence for the team. However, his teammates appear to be coping without him as coach David Blatt continues to get key contributions elsewhere on the roster to support LeBron James.
Blatt insists that he is “encouraged” by Irving’s improvement these past few days, and he will certainly hope that he is capable of playing solid minutes as he looks ahead to not only getting a key offensive piece back, but also another body to help guard the likes of Jeff Teague and Dennis Schroder in the Eastern Conference Finals.