Kyrie Irving to return for Cavs

ByDave McMenamin ESPN logo
Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving confirmed that he'll return to action Tuesday night after missing two games with a bone bruise in his left knee.

"We just got to be ready to play and me being out there, just got to do whatever it takes," Irving said before Cavs shootaround Tuesday.

The fourth-year veteran originally suffered the injury when he said he felt his knee "buckle" against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Dec. 11 after making contact with Russell Westbrook, but was able to re-enter the game after briefly heading to the locker room for treatment. He reaggravated the injury late in the fourth quarter of the Cavs' 101-91 loss to the Miami Heat on Thursday when he hyperextended his left knee while trying to make a play in the paint.

"It's a little tender right now, a little sore, but it's part of the game," Irving said Monday. "After the OKC knee injury, I kept playing on it, kept playing on it and I reinjured it against Miami. It's just one of those things where it will get better with time. But I just got to keep rehabbing it and doing what I need to do in order to get ready to play every single night."

The Cavs went 1-1 in the two games without Irving, winning Friday against the Magic 98-89 but losing by 23 points at home to the Pistons in the second game 103-80.

Irving received a MRI when the team returned to Cleveland after its two-game Florida road trip that confirmed that no further damage was caused in Miami beyond the bone bruise.

"He took another tough fall and has a bone bruise in his knee and he's dealing with it, but fortunately there's no structural issue," Cavs coach David Blatt said Monday. "But it's a painful thing, I can tell you."

Irving said that missing time allowed him to observe what Cleveland is lacking out on the court.

"It's just tough not to be out there to compete with my brothers, but for me, it's just little things that we can improve on, picking up our pace a little bit more," Irving said. "Even when I was in the lineup, I felt like we could pick up the pace a little bit more, so it's just going to be a conscious effort to do that.

"We just got to forceful-talk [on the court] right now. Any talk for us right now will be beneficial for our team, especially on the defensive end. We just got to continue to get better at that and trust one another. It's a continuous process that we're on, and we just have to accept it and be ready to grow every night."

Irving said he is not a vocal leader by nature but knows it is necessary for the Cavs, who are just 5-5 in their past 10 games.

"It's tough, but when you have the trust of your teammates, the trust of your coaching staff, it's not that hard," Irving said. "You just got to know that you're talking about, that's it. I have the trust of these guys, which I'm thankful for, and every single night just going out and competing, competing my tail off for the greater good of the team."

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