NBA

Irving trying to maximise efficiency after playing through pain barrier to inspire Mavs

By Sports Desk March 18, 2023

Kyrie Irving is focusing on maximising his on-court efficiency after returning from injury in style for the Dallas Mavericks on Friday.

Irving had been absent from the Mavs' previous three games due to soreness on his right foot, the team winning only one of those outings.

But his importance to the Mavs was clear to see as he returned to the court for the 111-110 win away to the Los Angeles Lakers, posting a game-high 38 points, plus six rebounds and six assists.

It was one of those assists that proved decisive at the end, as Irving lured two Lakers players before spotting Maxi Kleber wide open, and he ultimately drained the buzzer-beating three-pointer.

"I'm just grateful I was able to have my head on a swivel," he said post-game.

"I thought for a second about forcing that two up to tie the game, but I saw Maxi open and AD [the Lakers' Anthony Davis] helping a little too much, so I tried to get into his shot pocket, and I'm glad I got it to [Kleber] with enough time to at least get the shot off.

"I could easily be sitting in this position with a loss. It was just that kind of game, but I'm glad we were resilient.

"We got really lucky and fortunate at the end of the regulation, so I'm glad it worked out for us."

Certainly, Irving's inspirational impact showed few signs of any lingering issues with his foot.

But he hinted afterwards that he did play through the pain barrier a little, meaning he felt the need to think extra carefully about how he operated on court.

"It would feel better if my wife rubbed on it when I get home... Watch it," he said with a grin.

"I just need to take care of it. Again, I said a few days ago it's a little worse than I thought, but I've just got to manage it, and I'm not going to sit up here and make any excuses."

On his efficiency, Irving added: "I don't think it's any extra science or anything like that, but it comes down to being intentional about my reps.

"I could sit at home or be on the court and be like, 'I wish my foot felt as great as it has all season', but it's just not the reality.

"Just taking my reps out there on the floor and being efficient in the opportunities I have.

"It's not the first time I've played with an injury or anything like that. Just keep pushing and keep getting rehab and recovery to put myself in the best position."

The Mavs are sixth in the West with a 36-35 record after beating the Lakers, who are 10th on 34-37.

Related items

  • Heat top scorer Butler expected to miss several weeks with knee injury Heat top scorer Butler expected to miss several weeks with knee injury

    The Miami Heat won’t have injured leading scorer Jimmy Butler in the lineup when they host the Chicago Bulls in Friday’s Eastern Conference do-or-die play-in tournament game.

    Butler will be sidelined for several weeks due to a right MCL injury sustained in Wednesday’s 105-104 road loss to the Philadelphia 76ers, who clinched the No. 7 seed in the East.

    Butler was hurt late in the first quarter when he tried to fake out Philadelphia’s Kelly Oubre Jr. and his knee buckled, causing the six-time All-Star to fall to the court.

    A hobbled Butler remained in the game and wound up playing 40 minutes. He scored 19 points but shot 5 of 18 from the field.

    Butler led Miami in the regular season with 20.8 points, 5.0 assists and 1.32 steals per game while also averaging 5.3 rebounds.

    Last season, Butler won the Larry Bird Trophy as the MVP of the Eastern Conference Finals as No. 8 seed Miami advanced to the NBA Finals before losing in five games to the Denver Nuggets.

    The winner of Friday’s matchup between Miami and Chicago will capture the No. 8 seed in the East and move on to play the top-seeded Boston Celtics in the first round of the playoffs.

  • NBA: Embiid leads 76ers to 7th seed; White scores career-high 42 in Bulls' rout NBA: Embiid leads 76ers to 7th seed; White scores career-high 42 in Bulls' rout

    Joel Embiid had 23 points, 15 rebounds and six assists and the 76ers beat the visiting Miami Heat 105-104 on Wednesday in an Eastern Conference play-in game.

    With the victory, Philadelphia secured the seventh seed in the East and will face the second-seeded New York Knicks in a first-round series beginning on Saturday.

    The Heat, who made last season’s NBA Finals as a play-in team, will face an elimination game Friday against the Chicago Bulls for the eighth seed and the right to play the NBA-best Boston Celtics.

    Embiid’s availability against Miami was uncertain after the reigning league MVP tweaked his surgically repaired left knee Friday and sat out the regular-season finale two days later.

    He played 38 minutes and stepped up down the stretch with eight points in the final three minutes and dished out a clutch assist.

    With the game tied at 96, Embiid found Kelly Oubre Jr. under the basket with 36 seconds to play, and he was fouled while making a layup for a three-point play to put Philadelphia ahead for good.

    On Miami’s next possession, Nicolas Batum blocked Tyler Herro’s potential game-tying 3-point attempt.

    Batum provided a spark off the bench with 20 points and hit five of his six 3-pointers after halftime to help Philadelphia battle back from a 12-point deficit at the break.

    Tyrese Maxey added 19 points for a 76ers team that made 21 of 23 free throws.

    Both Herro and Jimmy Butler struggled with their shots for the Heat, who led by as much as 14 late in the second quarter.

    Butler injured his right knee in the first quarter and said after the game that he would need an MRI, putting his availability for Friday in question.

    Herro finished with a game-high 25 points but was just 4 of 14 from 3-point range, while Butler had 19 points on 5-of-18 shooting.

     

     

    White erupts for career-high 42 in Bulls’ win

    Coby White scored a career-best 42 points on 15-of-21 shooting and Nikola Vucevic added 24 points and 12 rebounds as the Chicago Bulls rolled to a 131-116 win over the Atlanta Hawks.

    White, who surpassed his previous career high of 37 points, had nine rebounds and six assists as Chicago advanced to a Friday matchup at Miami for the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference.

    DeMar DeRozan had 22 points and nine assists and Ayo Dosunmu added 19 points on 8-of-12 shooting after missing the final four regular-season games with a bruised right quadricep.

    The Bulls shot 56.8 percent from the field and 42.3 percent (11 for 23) from 3-point range to go with a 47-34 rebounding advantage.

    Dejounte Murray led the Hawks with 30 points and Trae Young and Clint Capela each had 22 as Atlanta’s season came to an end after it closed the regular season with six straight losses.

    The Hawks were within 88-85 but Vucevic’s 3-pointer ignited a 17-2 run to put the Bulls up 105-87 with 1:27 left in the third quarter.

  • Heat forward Butler needs MRI on injured right knee Heat forward Butler needs MRI on injured right knee

    Miami Heat star guard Jimmy Butler says he will need an MRI on his right knee after he was injured in the first half of a play-in tournament loss to the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday.

    Butler sustained the injury in the first quarter when he tried to fake out Kelly Oubre Jr. on a basket, only to have his knee buckle. He fell to the floor and Oubre appeared to land on top of him.

    “I fell, he landed, and my knee just didn’t do well, I guess,” Butler said. “I don’t know. It’s not a good feeling, I can tell you that.”

    Butler sank the free throw, exhaled, and missed the second one. He stayed in the game and finished with 19 points on 5-of-18 shooting in a 105-104 loss.

    The Heat will host the Chicago Bulls on Friday night, with the winner getting the No. 8 seed and a playoff matchup with the league-leading Boston Celtics.

    “We just need to get one and then we’ll worry about the next one,” Butler said.

    It’s unknown whether Butler will be available to play that game.

    “It felt like I couldn’t do much, which sucks with the timing of the game and everything,” Butler said. “I hope that I’m fine. I hope that I wake up tomorrow and can still stick-and-move. Right now, I can’t say that’s the case.”

    Butler averaged 20.8 points in 60 games this season for the Heat, tied with Tyler Herro for the team lead.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.