UPDATE 12:10 pm: Not so fast. Kyrie Irving says he is not playing Thursday. But expect him to return soon, he wants to get a couple games under his belt before the Christmas Day showdown with Golden State.
9:00 am: At long last, the Cleveland Cavaliers will have all three of their stars back in the lineup. Nearly six months after fracturing his left kneecap in Game 1 of the Finals, Kyrie Irving is slated to make his return on Thursday night, on a big stage: at home, against the Oklahoma City Thunder, on TNT.
Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving is set to make his season debut Thursday at home against the Oklahoma City Thunder, a source familiar with Irving’s plans told ESPN.com.
Irving, sidelined for the first 23 games of the Cavs’ season while recovering from surgery in June to repair a fractured left kneecap suffered in Game 1 of the NBA Finals, was cleared for full contact more than a week ago and has been through a handful of practices since without any setbacks.
Irving’s final hurdle before the team approves of his intention to play will involve a series of physical tests to measure his body’s strength and responsiveness, a team source told ESPN.com. The tests will be similar to the ones administered on Irving before he was allowed to return for Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals against Atlanta last spring after sitting out Games 2 and 3 with tendinitis in his left knee.
This is obviously great news for the Cavs, who have the best record in the Eastern Conference even without Irving, starting a combination of Mo Williams and Matthew Dellavedova at point guard. A Thursday return will give Irving three games (the Thunder game as well as matchups with the Sixers and Knicks) to get his feet wet before the game everyone is waiting for: the Christmas Day Finals rematch with the Warriors at Oracle.