Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals provided much clarity to the basketball universe, but it also left many wondering. As pointed out on the broadcast, injured guard Kyrie Irving was not present on the bench to support his team in their biggest game of the year.
The reason for his absence after being on the bench numerous times since his injury? Nobody knows.
Almost nothing in today’s 24/7 news cycle goes unknown for long, yet this story is still a guessing game.
Irving not being there may have been more detrimental than most realize. No, he could not have made plays down the stretch like Boston needed, however, he could have impacted the game from the bench.
Motivation and inspiration from a team’s best player when injured is vastly underrated and a young team could have benefited greatly from just that last night. Irving could have also potentially helped crack the code. It is not out of the realm of possibility that a player like Irving could have noticed something on the court the Celtics’ coaching was unable to.
It could be a daunting task to speculate on all of the possible reasons for Irving not being there, but it has to be noted this all seems so odd. Family issues, something unforeseen coming up, the holiday weekend all seem conceivable, but why wouldn’t that be clear 12 hours later?
ESPN’s Dave McMenamin reported on FOX Sports Radio (6:44) his injured teammate Gordon Hayward was in Indiana working out but flew back to Boston specifically for the game. McMenamin added a Cavs source told him, “Come on, man. Kyrie isn’t here, come on, man.”
If Irving absence was due to anything minimal, it will likely result in harsh criticism from the masses. Irving has already heard it from Mark Jackson:
“You never know what he sees that a coach does not see. If he’s just at home chilling or somewhere not important, to me, that’s a problem. I would much rather have the great Kyrie Irving in the building. This is Game 7.”
Update: Here is why Kyrie missed the game: