OAKLAND – Kyrie Irving’s absence for the remainder of the NBA Finals means the Cavaliers will feature a new starting lineup for Game 2 on Sunday night.
All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving underwent surgery Saturday to repair a fractured knee cap. Matthew Dellavedova, an undrafted second-year player from Saint Mary’s, will replace Irving in the lineup, the Cavaliers announced 25 minutes before tipoff. But Dellavedova will receive a lot of help in ball-handling responsibilities from Cleveland's highest-profile player.
“I think LeBron (James) has been playing a point forward all his life, so obviously he’s going to handle the ball and facilitate some," Cavaliers coach David Blatt said.
James said he expects 40 to 42 minutes is the maximum he can handle physically during the added pressure and intensity of a game in the NBA Finals. The Cavaliers figure to need James every bit that much against a deep Warriors squad that saw 10 players see at least 8:30 of action in their 108-100 victory in Game 1.
“He knows and we know he’s got to be on the floor a good bit,” Blatt said of James. “But we try to rest him when we can. Obviously, the options for doing so are a little bit less.”
The Cavaliers might have to try to get some minutes for veterans Mike Miller, Shawn Marion or Kendrick Perkins now that their main rotation has been cut to just seven players with Irving and Kevin Love (shoulder) out for the Finals.
“We’re always looking for ways to gain an advantage or to improve in our play,” Blatt said. “By nature of the set of circumstances that we have right now, that’s certainly something that you’ll see more of, and hopefully we’ll get the kind of contribution that we need from everyone to make up for Kyrie’s (absence).”