OAKLAND –- It might be too early for an official diagnosis of Kyrie Irving, but things did not look good for the Cavaliers All-Star guard following the Warriors' overtime victory in Game 1 of the NBA Finals.
At the point Irving sustained an apparent aggravation of the knee injury that limited him in Cleveland’s Eastern Conference run to the Finals in overtime, the momentum had already shifted. The Warriors were well on their way to a 108-100 victory on Thursday night at Oracle Arena.
[Instant Replay: Warriors battle, take Game 1 from Cavs in OT]
And when Irving finally made his way to the team bus at around 10:15 p.m., things looked even worse.
“It was tough to see,” said LeBron James, who scored 44 points. “I just see how hard he worked these last eight days just to get himself to play at this level tonight. Seeing him walk out of the locker room on crutches just now, that’s a tough blow for our team.”
Irving is scheduled to undergo an MRI examination on Friday, according to the Cavaliers. He will continue to be evaluated by the team’s medical staff. He has been nursing a case of knee tendinitis, which forced him out of action for two games in the Eastern Conference finals against the Atlanta Hawks.
“My ACL’s fine, my MCL’s fine,” Irving said in the locker room. “(There are) other parts in the knee that could affect what’s going on. But, obviously, I hope it’s just a re-aggravation of originally what was going on. But, I mean, it’s a little disappointing, frustrating just because, just coming in I felt amazing.”
Until the point he went down with his injury, Irving was having a solid game. He finished with 23 points, six assists, seven rebounds, four steals and two blocked shots while logging 43:37 of playing time.
Irving’s blocked shot on a Stephen Curry layup attempt with :26 remaining gave the Cavaliers a chance to win the game at the end of regulation.
But James, who made 18-of-38 field-goal attempts, settled for a fall-away long-range jump shot while Andre Iguodala closely guarded him. Iman Shumpert gathered in the long rebound and missed off the front iron at the buzzer to send the game into overtime.
“I didn’t think I had any time to set my feet; I missed the shot,” Shumpert said. “Without a doubt, I thought it was good. But I missed the shot.”
Irving removed himself with 2:02 remaining in overtime after falling to the floor while trying to drive against Klay Thompson. He kicked a pass out to J.R. Smith, who missed a 3-point attempt. On the other end, Harrison Barnes hit a 3-point shot from the left corner to give the Warriors a 105-98 lead.
[MAIOCCO: Irving aggravates knee injury in overtime]
After a timeout, Irving took himself out of the game and limped to the Cavalier locker room.
“I tried to decelerate trying to go by Klay,” Irving said. “I don’t know what I felt, but obviously it didn’t feel right. It was a little bit different than what I have been in experiencing in the Chicago series or anything like that.”
Matthew Dellavedova, an undrafted second-year player from Saint Mary's, replaced Irving in the lineup. Dellavedova did not attempt a shot and added three assists in less than 10 minutes of action.
“Well, I mean, it's the next man up,” James said. “If Kyrie can't go, Delly's number is going to be called and everyone else has to pick each other up.”
The Cavaliers have yet to win a game in the NBA Finals in the 45-year history of the franchise. They had a chance to pull a win out on a night in which James scored more points than ever before in an NBA Finals game. This is James' sixth trip to the Finals, including his fifth in a row. It is his second trip with Cleveland, which was swept in 2007 against the San Antonio Spurs
After Irving's blocked shot on Curry, who led the Warriors with 26 points, the Cavaliers called timeout with 24.1 seconds remaining in regulation. James held the ball for most of the shot clock and fired from long distance on the left wing with :03 on the clock instead of driving to the rim, where he had done most of his damage.
“My mindset was we’re either going to go out of here with a win or going to overtime,” James said. “I’m going to get the last shot. Actually, Shumpert was able to get another look at it, but I got to where I wanted to get, step back. Made them before. We had our chances.”
The Warriors, given a reprieve, made quick work of the Cavaliers in the overtime period, scoring the first 10 points of the extra five-minute session.
“I thought we came out of regulation flat and without the kind of energy that we had displayed throughout the game,” Cavaliers coach David Blatt said. “They made a few plays.
“It seemed like once they got a basket or two, we kind of dropped and they took the momentum and obviously continued throughout the overtime. We sort of dropped off the map at that point.”
The Cavaliers’ only two points came on James’ uncontested layup with 9.5 seconds remaining in overtime. Cleveland’s two points tied the all-time Finals low for an overtime period in the shot-clock era (since 1954-55).