The Cleveland Cavaliers are off to a very solid start in 2016, currently leading the Eastern Conference with a 13-5 record. However, one can’t help but wonder if they’d be doing even better with All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving on the floor. And the good news is that he’s now much closer to returning to action.
Irving hasn’t played a game since breaking his left kneecap in the 2015 NBA Finals. But he’s now practicing with the Cavaliers again and told the media that he should be suiting up in the near future. As for exactly when he’ll play a game, the 23-year-old isn’t offering up much.
”You’re not getting anything out of me,” he said half-jokingly. ”No percentages, no target dates, nothing. I’m feeling good. Personally, I’m in a great place just being able to be out here and practice with the guys, being able to go up and down and continuously, as well.”
Despite the good news that he’s practicing again, Irving has some work ahead of him to return to a high level.
“Today, there was a lot more up and down,” he explained, “being able to test my wind, being able to test my knee, going from offense to defense and translating and being able to get out in the fast break and being able to try my moves that I’ve been practicing, kind of knock off most of the rust I’ve had.”
If there’s been any solace about Irving missing almost 20 games for the Cavs this season, it’s that offseason acquisition Mo Williams has played very well in his place. The 12-year vet has averaged 14.5 PPG, 4.5 APG and 3.1 RPG. But it’s obvious that Cleveland would also love to have a 3-time All-Star back at the position.
”If I’m putting myself in a position to be out there and I’m 100 percent, then I’m going to go out there and I’m not going to take any extra days off or take a week off just because erring on the side of being cautious,” he said. ”Anything can happen at any given moment, and I still have no regrets from what I did last year, going out there, and even playing injured.”
Aside from getting Irving back, the Cavs would love to have shooting guard Iman Shumpert and center Timofey Mozgov as well. Shumpert broke his wrist in the offseason and has been sidelined ever since. Mozgov played in the early going, but he’s had trouble with the knee that was operated on in the offseason.
Considering that these are three key players who’ve been missing, it wouldn’t be a shock if Cleveland plays even better when everybody is healthy.
Not surprisingly, LeBron James and Kevin Love has been leading the way in the first part of the season. Love is averaging 19.2 PPG and 11.6 RPG while James is tallying 25.6 PPG, 7.8 RPG and 6.4 APG. Williams, J.R. Smith (10.3 PPG), Matthew Dellavedova (7.9 PPG, 5.6 APG) and Tristan Thompson (7.8 PPG, 10.3 RPG) are also having strong seasons. It’ll be interesting to see if Cleveland can finally put their core together and run away with the East.
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