CLEVELAND (AP) — Kyrie Irving didn’t waste a moment in starting his recovery for next season, rushing back from the NBA Finals to have surgery on his left knee.
The Cavaliers’ All-Star guard was in the operating room on Saturday to repair the broken kneecap he suffered in Game 1, an injury that will make it even tougher for Cleveland to try and win a title.
Irving’s surgery at the Cleveland Clinic came less than 24 hours after an MRI revealed the fracture, which had bothered him throughout the postseason. He got hurt in overtime of Cleveland’s 108-100 loss to the Golden State Warriors, who will try to take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series at home on Sunday night.
Irving was driving to his right when he crumpled to the floor. Afterward, he said he felt “something different” in his knee and his instincts were right as tests confirmed his fears. It’s a difficult blow to the Cavs and a devastating one to Irving, who has been dogged by injuries throughout his pro career. Despite numerous medical setbacks, he had blossomed into one of the game’s elite point guards this season only to have it ended with another injury.
The Cavs said Irving will need three to four months of recovery.
Irving had looked like himself, moving quickly before he got hurt. The team didn’t know what to expect from him before the game, but it was clear the eight days off before the finals had given him enough time to recover.
He scored 23 points with seven rebounds, six assist and four steals in 43 minutes. But following the game, he left Oracle Arena on crutches and it wouldn’t be long before the Cavs learned they’d have to go on without him.
Without Irving, the Cavs will have to rely on others to pick up the scoring slack and help LeBron James, who scored 44 in Game 1 on 38 shots. Cleveland won two games in the Eastern Conference finals with Irving sidelined, but the Warriors present a greater challenge than Atlanta.
Matthew Dellavedova likely will start in Irving’s spot. He made big plays in the second round against Chicago when Irving was out and had an impact on the Cavs’ sweep over the Hawks with his hustle at both ends of the floor.
Irving’s injury is just the latest obstacle for the Cavs, who lost forward Kevin Love in the first round against Boston with a dislocated shoulder that required surgery.
“The good thing about it, we’ve been in this position before,” James said. “So next man up and guys will be ready for the challenge.”
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