CBS Sports' Matt Moore reported on June 4 that both injured stars Kyrie Irving of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Klay Thompson of the Golden State Warriors are ready for Game 1 of the 2015 NBA Finals which begins on Thursday.
Kyrie Irving and Klay Thompson are ready for Game 1 of the 2015 NBA Finals.
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CBS Sports' Matt Moore spoke with both players, who are coming off respective injuries, on June 4. Irving, the Cavaliers' All-Star point guard, has been battling left-knee tendinitis since the Eastern Conference Finals against the Atlanta Hawks.
Irving told Moore on Thursday it hasn't been easy for him, but he will do his best to be at the top of his game:
"It's definitely tough. Because obviously mentally and physically you want to be in line. It's just like some of the things I'm thinking about doing mentally, you know, your body just kind of stops and you can catch yourself a little bit sometimes.
"You've got to get off the ball. But for me, it's just about finding my spots and seeing where I could be more effective out there for my teammates."
Cavaliers head coach David Blatt told CBS Sports Irving's injury is tough to deal with, but the team has to adjust:
"It's made it difficult. But that is the situation. You know, as we have in every other case this year, faced that with the same resolve and the same no-quite attitude and have made it our model for no excuses. We play and we play to win regardless of the situation."
For his part, Cleveland forward and four-time NBA MVP LeBron James told Moore the Cavaliers are better off with a less-than-100-percent Irving than without him at all:
"Whatever he can give us, it's going to be great for our team. Kyrie at 50, Kyrie at 60, Kyrie at 70 (percent) is better than Kyrie at zero. His presence on the floor. When that No. 2 Irving steps onto the court, he's a presence.
"And the defense has to be aware of him, has to account for him just because of his abilities to make plays. Any guy that is playing through injuries, I mean we all are at this point, but he's dealing with something that's even more challenging, so you definitely commend him."
NBA.com's Steve Aschburner stresses Irving has a had a spate of injuries during the playoffs: He sprained his right foot in Game 2 of the first-round series against the Boston Celtics and then aggravated it in the second round against the Chicago Bulls before suffering left-knee tendinitis.
Irving sat out Games 2 and 3 of the conference finals before taking the court for Game 4 against the Hawks. Aschburner says this means the Cavaliers guard has played just once during a two-week span and not at all in the nine days leading to Game 1 as of Wednesday.
Cavaliers manager David Griffin told NBA.com on June 3 the extent of Irving's latest injury won't require him to have surgery. Griffin added Cleveland's key to success is Irving playing to his capabilities given the circumstances:
"He's going to have to be at a point where he's mind-body-and-spirit-connected to what he is. If that's what he thought he was on Friday, great. But he's got to be comfortable with whatever it is he's at."
On the other hand, Thompson told CBS Sports he knew he would be able to come back from a concussion he suffered during Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals against the Houston Rockets:
"I was confident I was going to play. I knew I had to pass protocol, but I've been hit in the head before and, honestly, I felt really good the second day. I had some nagging headaches that night, but when I got some good sleep and some good rest I was all right. So really knew that Game 1 was never in jeopardy.
"At the same time, it's not cool seeing your name in the headlines saying is he unsure or whatnot, just because I wanted to play so bad. You know, it's the NBA Finals. There is something wrong with you if you don't want to get out there and work everything to get back on the court.
"So for me, and it was almost like not playing wasn't an option. I just can't wait. I know I was going to be all right, though. I'd taken hits to the head before and that one looked kind of rough, but after a few days, I felt back to normal."
His teammate, NBA-All Defensive team member Andrew Bogut, told Aschburner on Wednesday a lot of players from both the Warriors and Cavaliers are hurt. He also said he and his teammates expect Thompson to be a key factor:
"I'll tell you, there's not one guy in the series who's 100 percent. We've got guys banged up -- just 'cause they're not talking in the media about it doesn't mean a guy's healthy. Everyone at this point in the playoffs has tendinitis, arthritis, contusions.
"We had someone with a concussion. We're not feeling sorry for anyone. We're not going to change things. We expect him to play the way he played all season. He is still a legitimate threat."
Game 1 of the 2015 NBA Finals between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors will be at Oakland's Oracle Arena at 9:00 p.m. ET on June 4.
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