That diagnosis counts as great news for Cleveland, as Irving told reporters that he "felt a pop" in his knee after Irving suffered the injury during a 91-76 road loss to Indiana on Tuesday. A bruise might be painful, but it's far better than a ligament tear that is often associated with a popping sound in the knee.
With a little more than four minutes remaining in the third quarter and the Cavaliers leading 59-58, Irving pushed the ball up the court to initiate an offensive possession. After using a crossover dribble to get by George Hill on his way to the basket, Irving stumbled to the court as his left leg gave way when he tried to plant, and he was forced to fling up a wild shot.
Irving initially stayed on the ground as the action went back the other direction before limping in the direction of Cleveland's bench. He didn't make it to his destination, though, and he took a seat on the court and held his left knee as coach Mike Brown and team staffers attended to him. He was eventually helped to the locker room by his teammates.
The third-year guard remained sidelined for the rest of the third quarter, but he re-entered the game with 9:27 remaining in the fourth. Irving's only points down the stretch came on a pair of free throws, and the Pacers outscored the Cavaliers 26-10 in the fourth quarter to claim a come-from-behind victory. He finished with 10 points (on 3-for-9 shooting), five rebounds and five assists in 35 minutes.
The Akron Beacon-Journal reported Irving's post-game reaction.
Irving said he felt a "pop" in the knee and it still felt weak even after he [returned] in the fourth quarter.
"I thought the worst had happened," Irving said. "My left knee is pretty weak right now. I was falling all over the place. I didn't have my legs under me. ... "I'm still hoping that there's nothing wrong, just something slight, if anything at all," Irving said. "Just hoping for the best."
Irving, 21, is averaging 22.2 points, 6.1 assists, 3 rebounds and 1.1 steals this season, and he's the Cavaliers' leading scorer and assist man. Selected to the 2013 All-Star Game as a reserve, Irving is currently on track to be in the starting lineup for the 2014 All-Star Game in New Orleans.
In the event that Irving does miss time, Brown will be forced to turn to veteran combo guard Jarrett Jack, who has been an on-again, off-again starter throughout his nine-year career, and promising rookie Matthew Dellavedova.
The injury bug has repeatedly bitten Irving in recent years. Back in March 2013, he missed multiple weeks with a shoulder injury, and he suffered a hairline fracture in his finger back in November 2012. The No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 draft missed 15 games for the Cavaliers during his rookie season and sat out for an extended period of time due to a concussion. He also broke his hand during the summer of 2012, an injury that prevented him from participating in the Las Vegas Summer League. A toe injury also caused him to miss a majority of his one and only season at Duke.Video via YouTube user frank den