Cleveland Cavaliers wing Isaac Okoro is dealing with a bone bruise in his left knee, according to The Athletic’s Kelsey Russo.
“Okoro, who missed his fourth consecutive game Tuesday, is dealing with a bone bruise in his left knee, a team source confirmed to The Athletic,” Russo wrote.
The Cavs have already clinched the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference, and they can’t move up or down in the standings in the final games of the season. That’s made it unnecessary for Okoro to play, even though the team reportedly is hopeful he can play in the regular season finale against the Charlotte Hornets.
Okoro reportedly could play if needed, which is a good sign for his availability against the New York Knicks in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.
“A team source, speaking to provide context about Okoro’s lingering injury, said Okoro could play if it were necessary,” Russo added.
The No. 5 overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, Okoro has been an integral part of Cleveland’s rotation this season. Arguably the team’s best perimeter defender, Okoro has started 46 of the 76 games he has appeared in this season.
It makes sense that the Cavs are playing things safe with Okoro, as it is more important that he’s able to play in the postseason.
Cleveland has lost three of its four games against the Knicks this season, so the first-round matchup isn’t going to be an easy one, even though the Cavs have home-court advantage.
Okoro could be one of the options to slow down Knicks guard Jalen Brunson, who scored 48 points against Cleveland in the last meeting between the two teams.
The Cavs have several options on the wing, including Caris LeVert, Cedi Osman and even Dean Wade, that can eat up some minutes while Okoro is out of the lineup.
This season, the Auburn University product is averaging 6.4 points, 2.5 rebounds and 1.1 assists per game while shooting 49.4 percent from the field and 36.3 percent from beyond the arc.
While the 22-year-old doesn’t have a huge role in the team’s offense, his defense is extremely important to Cleveland’s success.