Kyrie Irving started off the Cavaliers second round series against the Bulls with a bang. He scored 30 points to go along with two rebounds and six assists as the Cavs fell in Game 1. After scoring 21 points in the Game 2 victory, Irving’s production severely dropped off in Games 3 and 4, as he combined for 23 points on 5-23 shooting with just two assists.
An MRI Monday revealed that Kyrie Irving has tendinitis in his left knee.
Kyrie Irving says he's never had injuries to both legs at same time. Wants to find way to "take pressure off Bron" even w/o his acceleration
— Ethan J. Skolnick (@EthanJSkolnick) May 11, 2015
This would explain Irving’s struggles offensively and why he’s being shaded on the Bulls’ worst offensive player on the floor.
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According to Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal, that MRI eased some of Irving’s nerves and concerns about it, allowing him to play a lot more free in Game 5. Irving scored 25 points on 9-16 from the field with three three-pointers and five assists. His explosiveness wasn’t at 100% but he was definitely back to doing Kyrie Irving things:
After the game, Irving talked about playing with the injuries:
“This has been the biggest mental challenge of my career thus far, just because I want to do more. I want to be that guy for my teammates as well as for Bron. We built a dynamic of me and him playing off one another extremely well, and other guys spacing the floor. And when we need a bucket, whether it is me or Bron, we take it upon ourselves to do that. When you can’t do that, and you are limited to certain things, you have to come to grips with it.”
Cavs beat reporter Chris Parker found that Kyrie’s movement was much better in Game 5 as opposed to Games 3 and 4.
Quenton Albertie ·
Nice observation by @CRS_1ne using SportVU data to quantify the difference in Kyrie in Game 5 vs Games 3-4 pic.twitter.com/snQdjAFlm3
— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) May 13, 2015
Hopefully, Kyrie can continue to play well in Game 6, when the Cavs can close out the Bulls and look ahead to facing either the Washington Wizards or the Atlanta Hawks. After the MRI and further evaluation, the Cavs say no further damage can be done if Irving keeps playing with the sprained foot and tendinitis. Irving said he wouldn’t sit out either way, letting it be known that he’s not missing these moments to be there for his brothers.
“My game is predicated on angles to the backboard, practicing constantly and honing my craft,” Irving said. “I was seeing angles a little bit better [in Game 5] when I was getting in the paint.”