Injury after injury. That was basically the highlight early on for the Cleveland Cavaliers and even during their postseason run that saw them two games short of a championship. The two all stars Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving had their seasons cut short early on due to dislocated shoulder to Love and fractured left kneecap to Irving, respectively.
Kevin Love picked up his injury while fighting for a rebound against Kelly Olynyk who, whether it was accidental or deliberate, dislocated Love’s shoulder by pulling down on his arm. Love was in severe pain and ran to the locker room right away. Although the Cavs had some hope that he would be able to return for the playoffs, Love would be diagnosed with a dislocated shoulder and ligament damage, putting him in street clothes for 4-to-6 months.
While the Cavaliers did manage to beat the Celtics in Game 4 and the Bulls in six games with ease, they lost another piece against the Atlanta Hawks in the Conference Finals. Kyrie Irving missed Games 1-3 of the East Finals with left knee tendinitis and a sprained right foot. Even after this, he took care of himself with several days of treatment and was back in the Finals, but not for long.
In the very first game, Kyrie got hit in the left knee when trying to pull up off the dribble during the overtime session and had to leave the game right away. Fans around the world were hoping it was just his tendinitis acting up again, but everyone within the Cavaliers’ organization knew he probably couldn’t make a return to the lineup again this season. A few days later, an MRI revealed the fractured kneecap and now Irving would be in street clothes for about 3-4 months.
While Lebron managed to step up his game, he was never going to beat the Golden State Warriors all by himself. With many saying that a healthy Cavaliers team could be champions, the big question this offseason is will the Cleveland Cavaliers manage to stay healthy next season?
At the end of the Cavs 2014-15 season, only one starter remained, Lebron James. Andy, Love, and Irving were injured along the way, and Dion Waiters was traded. Here’s a look at the injury riddled history of Kevin Love:
2009-2010: Love broke the fourth metacarpal in his left hand and missed first 18 games of the season
2010-2011: Love suffered strained left groin and missed 9 of last 11 games of the season
2012-2013: Love broke third and fourth metacarpal in his right hand and was out for 5 weeks. He came back and re-fractured his right hand and was out for 8-10 weeks.
2014-2015: Love suffered a back injury, back spasms, and dislocated shoulder.
With this long history of injuries, it cannot be said that his next season will be injury free. However, if the coaching staff can limit his work and minutes, it would allow him to progress through the season and keep himself healthy. If the Cavs sign Tristan Thompson who can handle big minutes which he showed in playoffs, he could sub in time to time for Love. Cleveland also has Mozgov and Varejao and could all share minutes. Injuries never tell and come, but the Cavaliers can certainly do the best to avoid them. Love might suffer back spasms, or other minor injuries but that shouldn’t stop Cleveland from re-signing him. Kevin Love should be able to get through next season without any severe injuries if his minutes are limited and even if it does, hope it’s not during or before playoffs!
Kyrie Irving was the second starter who was injured. Kyrie’s injury history travels all the way into college days where he picked up a severe ligament injury in his right toe which sidelined him for a several months. In the 2012-13 season, Kyrie broke his hand, followed by an index finger injury, and lastly suffered a broken nose, all in the same season. This season he suffered shoulder injury, back tightness, left knee contusion and tendonitis, sore knee, illness and fractured left kneecap during finals Game 1 and is out for 3 months. These injuries point directly to his minutes per game this season which sat at 36.4 per game which in fact are slightly higher than Lebron’s 36.1 minutes per game. With Matthew Dellavedova as a backup point guard, Kyrie had to play huge minutes in order to help the offense and put in a lot of work off and on the court. In his NBA career, Kyrie has averaged 34.5 minutes per game, which are on the high side. This is primarily because the Cavs haven’t had a great backup point guard. However, this is going to change his off season. The Cavaliers are looking to acquire Mo Williams who can help Kyrie get rest during games, and reduce the chances of picking up injuries.
In both the cases of Kevin Love and Kyrie, it was the work they’ve had to put in with Cleveland and Timberwolves due to being the star players that resulted in injuries. This season with no backup players on the bench, they again had to put in a lot of work. Over time, Cleveland did gain the depth it needs but with all the injuries this season, the bench was put to start and limited the Cavs to only using a total of 7 players in finals. Next season will be a fresh start, with Kevin Love, Lebron James, Kyrie, Mozgov starting along with a shooting guard and will have a great bench. If the coaching staff can find a way to utilize Kyrie and Love to their full potential while limiting the minutes, they could push through the 82 game season, and give it all in a deep playoff run without picking up any major injuries and hopefully Cleveland won’t see their hopes let down due to injuries.