Kurt Helin

Kyrie Irving

David Blatt on Kyrie Irving: “He got kneed in the side of his knee. It was a contact injury.”


OAKLAND — Cavaliers coach David Blatt has faced criticism from some quarters in the wake of Kyrie Irving’s playoff ending fracture of his kneecap. Why did Blatt play Irving 43 minutes? Did he and the Cavs push Irving to get back before his body was ready and that led to a non-contact injury where Irving’s knee buckles?

Blatt does not buy even the basic premise of this argument — that Irving’s knee just gave out.

“My take on the injury was that he got kneed in the side of his knee,” Blatt said Saturday. “It was a contact injury, and the result was a fracture of the kneecap.”

Did the tendonitis that Irving has battled all season have anything to do with the injury?

“You know, that’s a doctor’s question, but in my opinion, absolutely not. It has nothing to do with it,” Blatt said.

Cavaliers GM David Griffin echoed that second idea.

“It’s an injury that is completely separate from the nature of his previous injury,” Griffin said. “I would be naive to say there was absolutely no correlation because we’ll never know. But every objective measure we have, all the opinions that were gathered, everybody who saw the images, they all agreed that there was no additional risk.”

First, we should not confuse contact with intent — there is no way a rational person can watch the video of the injury and suggest Klay Thompson intended to injure Irving. I would certainly hope that is not what Blatt was going at.

If there is contact, it’s relatively minimal and not outside the norm that happens a lot over the course of an NBA game.

Was Kyrie’s injury due to tendonitis and overuse? We don’t have the details of the injury but as was pointed out in a fantastic article at The Sporting News, a fractured kneecap usually happens when a tendon snaps and takes a piece of kneecap with it. That appears to have been what happened to Irving.

I’m no doctor, in this case it may well be impossible to say. But studies have shown that overuse of muscles and tendons can lead to this type of injury. Draw your own conclusions.

Strength in Numbers is not just marketing slogan, it’s philosophy for Warriors

2015 NBA Finals - Game One

OAKLAND — What happened in Game 1 of the NBA Finals may have seemed like a playoff anomaly to people not used to watching Golden State — their starters bogged down to start the game, so Warriors coach Steve Kerr went deep into his bench early and trusted them to turn things around.

It wasn’t. It’s how the Warriors have played all season.

“We know we didn’t play that well, it wasn’t us,” Warriors’ Brazilian reserve guard Leandro Barbosa said of the start to the game. “We were excited and nervous because we hadn’t been in that position before, it was everything new for us, so many people, it was a different feeling. Once we got our momentum, everything was very good.”

“It’s oftentimes our second group that gets the ball moving and gets our team going, not just (in Game 1), but we’ve had several games where that’s been the case,” Golden State coach Steve Kerr said. “Sometimes our starters get a little bogged down, and we go to Shaun (Livingston) and L.B (Barbosa). and Andre (Iguodala). Last night Mo (Marreese Speights) with his return, and the game can change. Sometimes you just need a different look. And I do believe that there is a certain chemistry that comes with relying on a lot of people too.”

It’s easy to point to Andre Iguodala coming off the bench and guarding LeBron James and saying that is how the Warriors’ bench contributed, but it was much more than that.

In Game 1, Golden State had a lineup with at least three bench players on the court for 14 minutes and were a +4 in that time, with some key lineups doing very well. It was the Warriors bench that sparked a comeback from 14 down in the first half.

source: Getty Images

Contrast that with the Cavaliers, where David Blatt played six guys at least 33 minutes, giving limited duty to anyone else, such as James Jones (17 minutes) and Matthew Dellavedova (nine minutes).

“I think in overtime they got a little bit tired, their rotation is a little bit shorter, and our rotation is a little bit longer, I think that affected the game last night,” Barbosa said, while adding it’s not why he thought the Warriors won.

What Blatt did in Game 1 is what most every coach does in the playoffs, tightening his rotations — and it almost worked. Behind the brilliance of LeBron, the Cavaliers were an Iman Shupert putback at the buzzer away from stealing Game 1 on the road.

But that’s not what the Warriors do. Those “Strength in Numbers” T-shirts everyone wears is not just a marketing slogan, it’s a philosophy.

“I think every team is different,” Kerr said. “I thought about it as soon as I got the job looking at the roster, and, in fact, the first meeting of the season the night before training camp, we had a team dinner, and that was a big theme was strength in numbers. We’re going to try to use our depth throughout the regular season and in the playoffs, and that’s been a big part of our team.”

“I don’t think it should change,” Barbosa said of the rotations. “(Kerr) did that the whole season and the whole playoffs. I think there’s a reason for him to do that, we kind of know what we have to do when we’re out there, he’s got a lot of confidence in us.”

As he should — that bench is a key reason Golden State is up 1-0 in the NBA Finals. And that bench will get its shot in Game 2.

PBT Extra: CSN’s Monte Poole talks NBA Finals Game 2

Stephen Curry, LeBron James
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OAKLAND — Golden State won Game 1 of the NBA Finals — and they don’t think they played that well.

Which means don’t expect a lot of Warriors adjustments in Game 2 Sunday night, they just want to do what they do better, says Monte Poole of CSNBayArea.com, who joins me from Oracle for this edition of PBT Extra.

At the time we taped this we did not know Kyrie Irving’s official status, but we didn’t think he would go and used that as our basis. Unfortunately, it was worse than we had imagined, an injury that devastates the Cavaliers chances.

Adam Silver on Kyrie Irving’s injury: “I’m devastated for him personally”

Adam Silver

We all remember Kyrie Irving was the No. 1 pick of the Cavaliers out of Duke (despite missing most of his season there due to injury).

What fewer people know is that NBA Commissioner Adam Silver is a graduate of Duke.

The two men had that in common and bonded over it as they have gotten to know each other over the years. Silver was at an NBA Cares event on Friday in San Francisco when the news broke, and Sam Amick of the USA Today spoke to Silver about the Irving news.

“First of all, from a personal standpoint, I’ve become good friends with Kyrie over the years. I traveled to South Africa with him and his Dad a year and a half ago, and I’m also a Duke grad (like Irving). So I’m devastated for him personally. You never like to see injuries, especially at this level, and right in the middle of our highest-profile series.

“Whether or not there’s more we can do to prevent injuries is something we’re very focused on. It’s always been part of the game — injuries happen, and they happen to high-profile players, they happen to guys who aren’t so high profile. Whether there’s better training practices, whether through better analytics, we can get a sense of what precise movements lead to injuries, whether it’s a function of the schedule are all things that we’re (looking at).”

The NBA eliminating the four games in five nights situations, and reducing back-to-backs, will help reduce injuries around the league while raising the level of play. Studies have shown that rested players are less likely to suffer injuries than ones that are physically tired.

But that wasn’t going to change this case.

Irving had more than a week off, and while he played more than 40 minutes in this game it was the first game of the NBA Finals. Irving pushed and wanted to get back on the court — and played well. The Cavaliers were in the mix and had a chance to win this in regulation. This is not the situation where you rest Irving, this is not a Tuesday night in January in Milwaukee.

Unfortunately, injuries happen.

And more unfortunately for the Cavaliers, they have had a run of them.

With Irving out, three things to look for from Cavaliers in Game 2

Matthew Dellavedova

OAKLAND — Even before we had all learned Kyrie Irving was out for the rest of the playoffs, the Cavaliers were trying to sell that they’ve been in this position before.

“We’ve played games without Kevin (Love), without Kyrie (Irving),” Cavaliers coach David Blatt said to the media less than an hour before Irving’s fractured kneecap was revealed. “We know how we want to play when they’re not in there. From that standpoint, we can prepare.”

The truth is the Cavaliers have never been quite here before.

These Cavaliers have never been in the Finals before, let alone against a 67 win team that has the best backcourt in the NBA, plus rolls out a deep and effective bench every night.

The Cavaliers already had no margin for error in this series. Then they dropped a winnable Game 1 and in the process Kyrie Irving fractured his kneecap to the point it will require surgery.

1) More Matthew Dellavedova. He’s going to get the start in place of Kyrie Irving, where he will bring some pesky defense, but a lot less athleticism and scoring. The Cavs need Dellavedova to be brilliant.

“Well, you all saw he played terrifically,” Blatt said about Dellavedova in the previous series against the Hawks when he started three games due to Irving injuries. “Matty has been a rotation player for us the whole year. He stepped in and did a great job, and the team believes in him and we believe in him. If necessary, he has to play significant minutes again, he’ll be ready, and we’ll know how to play with him.”

“Just watch some film, see what they are doing at both ends, then be ready for whatever the team needs,” Delladedova said of his preparation.

2) Even more LeBron James. Just when you thought the offensive burden on LeBron couldn’t get any bigger…

LeBron put on a little show for the media Friday. The Cavaliers were not practicing but had media obligations, LeBron came out, had the media moved off one end of the court and took 20 minutes worth of shots. Not in private on a side court, in full view of everyone. He is now the only guy on that team who can be relied upon to create shots, and he’s going to have to do it efficiently for himself and others.

“When guys  myself, Kyrie, Mozzy (Timofey Mozgov)  you know, we did a good job of putting points on the board, and every addition that we had was big for us,” LeBron said. “We’ve got to do a better job, obviously, of getting guys involved.”

What the Cavaliers need is one crazy good J.R. Smith game. You know it’s coming.

3) Play Tristan Thompson at the five and bomb away from three. Going small and shooting threes against the Warriors is far from an ideal strategy — that’s how Golden State prefers to play. But the Cavaliers need to generate offense, and that has happened for them through much of the playoffs when they have played Thompson at the five with LeBron, James Jones, J.R. Smith, and a point guard. The Cavs don’t have many choices here, they need offense and they need to try some small ball, and then hope Smith gets hot.

The two lineups with Thompson at center and Dellavedova at the point were -11 in 10 minutes in Game 1. It didn’t work. But desperate times call for desperate measures and the Cavaliers are desperate.

If they’re not, they should be.