Cleveland Cavaliers Need Iman Shumpert to Step Up if Kyrie Irving is Out


On the heels of a major victory in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals in Atlanta, the Cleveland Cavaliers were potentially dealt a major blow on Friday morning. According to reports, starting point guard Kyrie Irving is questionable—and some in the locker room feel he will not be ready to play at all.

Fred McLeod, Cavaliers play-by-play announcer for Fox Sports Ohio, tweeted out the following this morning. “Kyrie Irving will not attend shoot around in order to undergo additional evaluation with Dr. Richard Parker.” He continued on another tweet, “After continuing his treatment symptoms related to his left knee tendinitis had not diminished. He’s questionable for tonight’s game.”

After seemingly re-injuring his knee in the Cavaliers Game 1 victory, Irving ended up playing just 27 minutes in the game. He finished the night 4-of-10 from the field with 10 points, 6 assists and 3 rebounds on the night—but was clearly a liability against the Hawks faster guards thanks to his injury.

If Irving is unable to go, Iman Shumpert—who started at shooting guard in Game 1—will have to step up in a big way. Experiencing an off night in 34 minutes, Shumpert scored just 4 points on 1-of-7 from the floor. He was unable to get it going from three-point land as well, going 0-for-3 from there.

In the 2015 playoffs, Shumpert has shown flashes of brilliance at times.

In the team’s close-out game against the Boston Celtics, Shumpert registered 15 points and 10 rebounds in 38 minutes of work. His aggressiveness in that game paid off in a big way, earning him eight trips to the line (8-of-8). His hot streak would continue in the first game against the Chicago Bulls, as Shumpert scored 22 points in the team’s Game 1 loss. He had it going from the floor in his 41 minutes, shooting 8-of-17 and knocking down four three-point tries in the process.

For most of the playoffs Shumpert has been very efficient, which is why his Game 1 performance against Atlanta was more of an outlier than what is to be expected in Game 2. With this in mind, if Irving is out in tonight’s matchup the Cavaliers will likely need the more aggressive, attacking version of Shumpert who earned eight trips to the line in Game 4 against Boston to take the series to 2-0.

It took an out of this world performance from J.R. Smith in Game 1 for the Cavaliers to steal home court from Atlanta. While this writer is not doubting the streaky shooter to duplicate his performance, the Cavaliers cannot simply rely on performances like that to carry them to victory. LeBron James will ramp things up a little more in terms of facilitation in Game 2, so Shumpert will certainly have many opportunities to be aggressive and get to the hole in this one.

Though it is certainly disappointing if Irving cannot go, the Cavaliers have proven options on their roster who can certainly contribute filling in for him. With a combination of aggressiveness and lock-down defense, expect Shumpert to step up in a big way if the Cavaliers want to win Game 2 on the road in Atlanta tonight.

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Bob is the Founder, Site Director and Senior Writer of Cleveland Sports Zone. He has been writing about sports for over nine years thanks to his passion for Cleveland sports and a Journalism degree. His work has been featured on Bleacher Report, CBS Sports, ESPN, USA Today and other major sports networks.

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