Atlanta — Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving skipped the morning shootaround Friday before Game 2 of the Eastern Conference final to get further evaluation on his ailing left knee.
Irving was listed as questionable after scoring only 10 points and sitting out the final 8 minutes of the Cavaliers win over the Atlanta Hawks in the series opener.
Coach David Blatt said Irving didn't attend the shootaround in order to meet with the team's head physician, Dr. Richard Parker.
If Irving can't go, Matthew Dellavedova would likely start at point guard for the Cavaliers. LeBron James would also take on an expanded role handling the ball.
"Next man up," James said. "No excuses. No one's going to feel sorry for us no matter who's out."
Irving has been dealing with tendinitis in his left knee, as well as a strained right foot from an opening-round sweep of the Boston Celtics. When the knee acted up, he played only 12 minutes in the final game of a second-round victory over Chicago, giving Dellavedova the bulk of the playing time. The undrafted player for Australia came through with 19 points.
Irving had hoped a six-day break between series would help his knee improve, but he clearly was limited in the opener against the Hawks.
If he doesn't go in Game 2, the focus would again turn to Dellavedova.
"We've got confidence in anybody that comes on that floor," James insisted.
Irving apparently tweaked his knee during the third quarter of Game 1. Shortly after the Cavaliers pushed out to an 18-point lead, he left the court for good and watched his team hang on for a 97-89 victory.
"He's been going through games with less than 100 percent feeling," Blatt said. "He's tweaked it now and again. I don't know of one specific thing that happened in the last game, as opposed to what happened against Chicago."
Blatt said he will let Irving make the decision on whether he's capable of playing. For now, the Cavaliers aren't considering whether to shut him down for the rest of this series or even for the rest of the season, should Cleveland advance to the NBA Finals.
"It's not a matter of shutting him down," Blatt said. "It's just a matter of: Is he healthy enough to play?"
Asked whether extra rest would help, the coach would only say, "My understanding is that like most other injuries, it's a combination of pain management and what the physical symptoms are."
Dellavedova played nearly 25 minutes against the Hawks but failed to score. He missed four attempts from beyond the 3-point arc and went 0 for 6 overall.
"I'll be ready to go," he said. "Whatever the team needs."
After Irving went out against the Hawks, James took over most of the ball-handling duties in the fourth quarter. He expects the same responsibilities if needed in Game 2.
"That means less touches in the paint," James said. "If one of our ball-handlers is out, I've got to handle the ball more along with (Dellavedova). It changes my approach a little bit."
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