The Cleveland Cavaliers have a road back-to-back to open this week: Monday night in Phoenix against the devolving Suns, and then Tuesday night against Denver in the thin air.
As has been their practice since his return from a fractured kneecap, Kyrie Irving will play in only one of those games to keep him rested. He’s going to go up against the Suns (without Eric Bledsoe) and let Matthew Dellavedova and company deal the Nuggets. But he swears this is the last time he’s sitting one of these out, he told the Akron Beacon Journal.
“That’ll be the last time I sit out back-to-backs,” he said, “and hopefully the last two games I miss for the rest of the season.”
The next Cavaliers back-to-back is in San Antonio and Houston in a few weeks. We will see if Irving plays, but you have to like the spirit.
He has been understandably rusty in his return, shooting 29.4 percent overall and 22.2 percent from three through 62 minutes over three games. It’s just a matter of getting time on the court to get his rhythm back, plus getting in some sweat in practices (the Cavs are off until this weekend after these games). He will come around.
Irving will sit out other games, however. Eventually. As the playoffs near you can bet coach David Blatt is going to pick his spots to rest his stars and try to keep them fresh for a push to the Finals, and that will include Irving. The Cavs know they will be judged not on the regular season but the playoffs, and being rested will matter.