With the postseason only twelve days away from its commencement, teams with ambitions of winning the coveted 2023 NBA championship, such as the Cleveland Cavaliers, can ill-afford injuries, even to role players such as starting small forward Isaac Okoro. Okoro has missed the Cavs’ past three games due to a knee injury, and his status for the last three games of the regular season seems to be very much in doubt.
And it seems like the Cavs are yet to gain clarity regarding Okoro’s injury situation. There even seems to be a hint of worry behind head coach JB Bickerstaff’s words, as he fears that the 22-year old small forward is experiencing serious discomfort — serious enough to keep the defensive-minded wing out of action.
“We need to get him to a place better than he was. If Isaac doesn’t play, it’s because he’s in real discomfort. We’ve got to make sure we’re taking the steps to get him to a place of comfort and safety. That’s more important. It’s something we’re just monitoring every day and hopefully he continues to improve,” Bickerstaff said, per Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com.
What’s worrying for the Cavs, beyond Isaac Okoro’s three-game absence thus far, is that the 6’5 wing has also missed practice due to his ailing knee. Just to add further cause for concern, Okoro has reportedly been dealing with knee problems for “quite some time” now, choosing to just play through it to ensure that the Cavs clinch a playoff berth.
At the end of the day, however, JB Bickerstaff is looking to establish a strong contingency plan in place should Okoro miss more time. There also lies the possibility that he could even miss some postseason action, where the Cavs would badly need his perimeter defense against what’s looking like a probable matchup against Jalen Brunson and the New York Knicks.
“Trying to strike a balance with our starting group and our bench. Trying to make sure that there is a safety net as we work through the Isaac situation,” Bickerstaff said after rotating his starting 3 over the past three games (Caris LeVert, Lamar Stevens, and Dean Wade)
Cavs fans will be hoping that the third-year forward’s knee injury isn’t too serious, and that they would enter their first playoff action without LeBron James since 1998 with all hands on deck.