CLEVELAND (AP) — Kyrie Irving wanted to play in all 82 games this season. Now the Cleveland Cavaliers hope he will only miss one.
The All-Star point guard sat out for the first game of the season Thursday night, missing the Cavaliers’ game against Orlando because of a bruised left knee.
Irving, averaging a team-leading 22.2 points, was injured in the third quarter Tuesday in a 91-76 loss at Indiana. Irving felt a “pop” as he fell awkwardly on a drive to the basket, but an MRI on Wednesday revealed he only bruised the knee.
Cavaliers coach Mike Brown believes it’s best to be cautious with his star player, who is listed as day-to-day. Cleveland’s next game is Saturday at Brooklyn and the Cavaliers host Indiana on Sunday.
“I think he understands what he needs to do to help make sure he takes care of his body long term and not think about the short term,” Brown said. “I don’t think it’s a big problem for him.”
Irving, who worked out at Quicken Loans Arena prior to Thursday’s game, will receive additional treatment and rest. The former No. 1 overall pick has been injury prone during his NBA career. Irving missed 38 games in his first two seasons with a variety of injuries.
Jarrett Jack started at point guard for the Cavaliers, who have dropped a season-high six consecutive games, including two in overtime and a three-point loss in regulation.
“It’s tough because you obviously want to have him on the floor,” Brown said. “For us, where we’re sitting and the way we’ve closed games, whether we have Kyrie or not, it’s a psychological barrier we have to get over in order to get wins. You’d love to have him but whether he’s here or not, it’s not an easy task.”
Irving’s injuries in his first two seasons have included a broken nose, fractured jaw, broken finger, sprained knee and shoulder, and concussion. He played in only 11 games as a freshman at Duke because of a foot injury, and he broke his hand after his rookie season when he slammed a padded wall during a summer league practice in Las Vegas.