INDEPENDENCE, Ohio (AP) — Kyrie Irving couldn't handle playing with just one hand. Now, it's the Cleveland Cavaliers turn.
Irving will be sidelined for the next month with a broken left index finger, the latest injury to the NBA's reigning rookie of the year and a devastating blow to the rebuilding Cavs, who have lost six straight and must face playing without their talented star point guard.
"It's frustrating," Irving said Wednesday. "But we're just going to get through it and just gotta stay positive."
Right now, that's about all the 20-year-old can do.
Irving suspected his finger was hurt badly on Saturday, when he inadvertently struck the foot of Dallas' Darren Collison while trying to swipe the ball from the Mavericks guard. Irving returned to the game after X-rays came back negative. He played the rest of the game with his finger heavily taped and again on Sunday night at Philadelphia.
But Irving wasn't the same, and he struggled handling the ball while scoring a season-low 9 points on 4-of-14 shooting.
"I couldn't hold onto the ball, especially at the end of the game when I'm at my best," he said. "It was frustrating."
An MRI taken Monday revealed a hairline fracture, an injury he could play through but at the risk of doing more damage and missing several months.
The Cavs aren't taking any chances.
"If he really gets this thing hit again, then it requires surgery and then instead of weeks, you're talking about months," Cavs coach Byron Scott said. "I don't think we're being overly cautious by saying, 'Let's shut it down and see how it looks in a couple weeks and go from there.'"
The broken finger is the latest medical setback for Irving, who dismissed the idea he was injury prone when the Cavs opened training camp in October. Back then, he was returning from a broken right hand he sustained when Irving slammed a padded wall in frustration during a summer league practice.
Last season, Irving missed 15 games with a shoulder sprain and concussion. His college career at Duke was limited to 11 games because of a serious foot injury that took nearly one year to completely heal.
"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. Things happen in the game of basketball and obviously I can play, but I'm just being cautious right now."
As soon as he hurt his finger, Irving sensed it was serious.
"I just knew it wasn't a jammed finger," he said. "I've jammed almost every finger on my hand, so I just knew when it started turning black and blue. I just thought it was a bad sprain, but it turned out to be broken."