Kyrie Irving's Injury Threatens Cavaliers' Championship Hopes
The Cleveland Cavaliers are in trouble.
Tough to say that so early in a seven-game series, but viewed in the cold light of harsh reality, it's already accurate.
This one, in particular, comes to mind:
That looks easy, but keep in mind there are two dudes all over LeBron, including Andrew Bogut.
James kept making ridiculous shots to keep his team afloat, as the inevitable Warrior tide was coming. It's that dreaded feeling that only happens in Oracle Arena when the Dubs start making shots, and even if you’re ahead, you feel behind.
Even with the Cavaliers relying on James in isolation every time down and the Warriors slowly creeping up like the shark in Jaws, Cleveland still had a chance to steal the game. If only Iman Shumpert had just put a little bit more power behind his shot attempt at the buzzer:
The Cavs absolutely crumbled in overtime, scoring what was by then a meaningless two points as the Warriors started their celebration early. Ultimately, depending on JR Smith and Matthew Dellavedova to produce in the clutch in overtime doesn't bear the greatest results.
Why did the Cavaliers disappear in overtime?
- After Shumpert's almost ridiculous buzzer-beating attempt at the end of regulation, Cleveland looked spent.
- LeBron was out of juice by the middle of overtime. Every possession, the Warriors would have bodies stuck to him, forcing him to fight his way to the rim. After a couple of made treys by Golden State and missed shots on Cleveland's end, it was over.
- The supporting-cast problem is catching up to the Cavaliers in a hurry. Kevin Love would've been a godsend as James wouldn't have been forced to carry the whole load. Cleveland could've also given the Warriors more fits offensively by spreading the floor and forcing Golden State to choose whom to defend.
However, as if that wasn't bad enough, Kyrie Irving looked to re-aggravate his left knee in overtime. So bad, in fact, that he was forced to come out of the game and looked to be in incredible amounts of pain.
His injury looms over Cleveland like the flying saucer in Independence Day, which means the White House could very well be the Cavaliers' championship hopes going up in flames.
If Irving’s injury is as serious as it seems, the Cavs may need some therapy.
Cleveland relied on LeBron so much in Game 1 and still lost that it's hard to see a situation where that tactice will actually work against Golden State. The Warriors are basically allowing LeBron to get his 40+ points a night as long as their other shooters don’t get decent looks.
Well, guess what? It worked.
Without Irving, that strategy just got a whole lot easier. Dellavedova isn't even in the same universe as Irving, so this will force LeBron to bring the ball up even more, make plays constantly, and shoulder the entire burden once again, as if he wasn’t doing that anyway.
It's now at a point where Cleveland can't afford to have LeBron even sit down; their bench can't hold a candle to the Warriors’, especially if Iguodola is turning back the clock.
In what seemed to be a sign of a competitive and entertaining series has now turned into a potential steamroll if Irving has to miss any time. Again, it's hard to bet against LeBron in any game, but there is simply not enough supporting cast and the Warriors are only going to continue to tighten the screws in their game plan.
James needs help, and the chance of him getting it is slim to none.