After spending more than six months off the court, Cavalier superstar Kyrie Irving took to the appeared for the very first time Sunday night against the 76ers. The Cavs won easily, 108-86, with Irving scoring 12 points, dishing out four assists and having two threes and two steals.
It was a rough start for Irving, however. He missed his first five shots – including one being blocked by Jerami Grant. Moreover, Irving didn’t score his first bucket until 8:59 in the second quarter; A wide open layup off of a steal by LeBron James at halfcourt (James later admitted he was going to the rack, but changed his mind once he saw Kyrie wide open). After starting off one for six, he hit four of his final six shots.
His next bucket didn’t come until the third quarter, but this make was a typical Kyrie Irving layup. He brings the ball up in semi-transition, crosses from right to left on Kendall Marshall, hits him with a scintillating Euro step and finishes with a double clutch reverse layup, drawing oohs & ahs from the Cleveland fans and commentators.
On the very next possession for the Cavs, Kyrie has the ball on the right wing and, after a behind the back, crossover, through the leg combo, pulls up for a three over Isaiah Canaan off a screen from Kevin Love. His last two buckets came by way of a fastbreak layup off a Sixers turnover and a 27-foot three off of a high pick and roll with Tristan Thompson.
Final Grade: B-
What hurt Kyrie on this grade was how he was only 3-for-7 on shots inside the restricted area. It’s especially odd for Irving because he’s so efficient around the basket and boasts a career percentage of 59.4% from inside of three feet – including 61.1% last season.
He showed fans that he’s rusty, but not playing for six months will cause some rust. He looked good for someone who was out as long as he was and it’ll take him a few games to get back to normal, especially because of what his play style demands. Now that Cleveland is almost entirely healthy; they only strengthen their bid for the best team in the East.
Photo Credit: Kevin Blaze / USA TODAY Sports