76ers-Cavaliers Preview


The Cleveland Cavaliers had enough trouble winning with Kyrie Irving in the lineup, so there's every reason to believe it'll be much more difficult without him.

That was certainly the case when he missed time last season.

Cleveland will be without Irving for at least a month beginning with Wednesday night's home matchup with the Philadelphia 76ers, who seek their seventh straight victory in the series.

Irving was originally diagnosed with a bruised left index finger after X-rays turned up negative during a loss to Dallas on Saturday, and he ended up finishing that contest with a game-high 26 points.

Things didn't go as well for him the following night against Philadelphia (7-4), as Irving scored a season-low nine points and shot 4 of 14 from the field in an 86-79 defeat.

It turns out the finger indeed was broken, and Irving likely will miss about 20 games. He's just happy the injury won't keep him out longer.

"I'm just glad it's not injuries, knock on wood, such as something that could keep me out for six months,'' Irving said. "I'm going to miss a few games, I'm aware of that but you just gotta stay positive. I'm just being cautious right now.''

Loser of six straight, Cleveland (2-8) may have a hard time finding the positives in losing the reigning rookie of the year, who is averaging 22.9 points and 5.6 assists.

The Cavaliers went 4-11 without Irving in 2011-12.

"It's frustrating,'' said Irving, who also broke his wrist in July. "But we're just going to get through it and just gotta stay positive.''

Coach Byron Scott is tasked with attempting to find a suitable lineup to make up for Irving's lost production. Rookie Dion Waiters, averaging 13.7 points overall but shooting 20.0 percent (9 for 45) over his last three games, will see some time at point guard, though Scott isn't sure which other guard will see the majority of Irving's minutes.

"It's always one of those things where one of your best players goes down, it's an opportunity for other guys,'' Scott said.

"The biggest thing is, we still know we can win. We've just got to play a little bit of a different style on the offensive end, but we still feel we've got enough guys in this room capable of winning.''

They had trouble Sunday stopping Evan Turner, who scored 19 points and finished with nine assists while hitting 8 of 12 from the field as Philadelphia beat the Cavs for the sixth straight time.

Though Cleveland hasn't played another game since, the Sixers rallied from seven down after three quarters Tuesday to beat Toronto 106-98 for their third consecutive win. Turner scored 12 points on 5-of-14 shooting, but Nick Young netted a team-high 23 points off the bench and Jason Richardson added 21.

Jrue Holiday finished with 19 points and 12 assists for the 76ers, who have won six of eight.

"That was a win to remember,'' coach Doug Collins said. "It could've easily been an L. We finished the third quarter very poorly. We had a lot of fight in the fourth quarter. I was proud of them.''

Collins alluded to making some lineup changes against Cleveland, but he didn't specify.

"Byron Scott is on Twitter,'' Collins joked.

The Cavaliers' last victory in the series was a 101-93 win in Cleveland on Nov. 16, 2010.