Since June, Kyrie Irving has been on the sidelines because of the fractured kneecap he sustained in game one of the NBA Finals this past summer. The Cavs missed him and I’m sure a lot of fans missed him because of the potential shootouts between he & Curry during that series.
Today’s game has a lot of very skilled point guards that are incredibly fun to watch. Steph Curry & Russell Westbrook are tied for number one, but not far behind is the product from West Orange, New Jersey. Irving’s game is different from both aforementioned guards (whose games differ from each other, as well). He’s not as deadly as Curry from outside, nor is he as athletic as Westbrook. Irving does, however, have a super-crisp handle that he uses to breakdown defenders, attack the basket and then contort his body to finish around bigger players.
For LeBron, Coach Blatt and the rest of the Cavs, the spectacular finishes and crazy in-air acrobatics will only benefit Cleveland’s offense, which has been average at best. At 101.5 points per game, the Cavs have the 15th most productive offense in the league but shoot it at just over 45%, fifth best in the NBA. As expected, it’s tough for Cleveland to get consistent production outside of LeBron & Kevin Love. Mo Williams has been a great pickup for them and serves as that third option as J.R. Smith continues to struggle shooting and Shumpert just returning from injury.
LeBron & Kyrie
LeBron is the best player in Cleveland, but Irving is the most dynamic offensively. LeBron crushes teams on the inside and is a north & south type of player who struggles with his perimeter shot at times. He’s lucky enough that it doesn’t matter that he doesn’t dance on defenders or have a consistent jumpshot, his physical gifts let him attack the lane and he, usually, finishes or goes to the line. If you make him pass the ball, he carves up defenses like the second coming of Magic Johnson.
Not only does Irving possess north & south ability, he can go east and west as well and has a developed a really nice perimeter game (shot the three at 41.5% last season). With his natural position being point guard, he allows LeBron to work off the ball at times and provide an outlet for Irving, or cut to the hoop and finish. His perimeter game is the perfect contrast to James, whose inside dominance allows for Kyrie to get into position for open shots and keep the floor spaced.
Point Guard Depth
When players return from serious injuries they’re usually kept on a minutes restriction. This instance is no exception. The Cavs got really, really lucky and have two solid options that have played well to start the season – Mo Williams & Matthew Dellavedova. The two combine for 21.4 ppg & 9.4 apg so Coach Blatt isn’t going to have to worry about his superstar point guard playing too much.
If I was coaching the Cavs, I’d keep Kyrie’s minutes under 20 and possibly sit him for the second game of a back-to-back. They’re clearly fine without him, even though adding him back would greatly improve their team, the goal of a championship is at risk if Kyrie suffers another injury.
Kyrie’s said that he’s been ready to play for “about a week,” but that doesn’t constitute full health. Knee injuries are tough and you don’t want a player rushing back to play if the team doesn’t need to at the moment, especially with the way Kyrie plays basketball; a lot of movement, change of pace & direction and a lot of attacking the basket.
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