ATLANTA (AP) — Cleveland point guard Kyrie Irving did not play Monday night against Atlanta, part of a recovery plan that will have the All-Star sitting the second game of back-to-backs for now.
After missing eight straight games with a sprained left shoulder, Irving scored 31 points and had six assists Sunday in the Cavaliers' 112-92 loss in New Orleans.
For the time being, Cleveland officials plan for Irving to not play in back-to-back sets, although that may change. The Cavs (22-50), who have lost eight straight, have 10 games remaining — including two more sets of back-to-back games on consecutive days. Team officials said Irving's status for the second game in those situations will be determined closer to those dates (April 9-10 and 14-15).
Irving, 21, leads Cleveland with 23.2 points per game and 5.7 assists, but has struggled with injuries in each of his two NBA seasons. He's missed 22 games this season with a fractured left index finger, a hyperextended right knee, and the shoulder injury.
"He said he feels good; I expected him to say that. I thought he played pretty good (Sunday) night . . . I thought he got tired, which is understandable," said Cavs coach Byron Scott. "He didn't lobby this time. Back-to-back games, he's not going right now."
Cavs spokesman Tad Carper later said that Irving's recovery plan may be amended depending upon how well he holds up and feels.
"I think he understands we're just looking out for him," Scott said. "That's the bottom line. We want him to finish the season on a good note, and healthy going into next season."
Irving did not take questions from the media before Monday's game.