Irving’s Status Crucial For Cavs-Bulls Matchup
With all the talk of Derrick Rose’s buzzer beater in Game 3, the real issue of the Cleveland-Chicago series may come down to Cleveland guard Kyrie Irving.
Irving registered a paltry 11 points and no (that’s zero) assists in Game 3 on Friday night as his team took a 99-96 loss to the Bulls and went to a 2-1 deficit in their second-round Eastern Conference series. Considering Irving’s season average of 21.7 points and 5.2 assists, that’s a significant gap in the Cavaliers’ offensive scheme.
Cleveland coach David Blatt said after the game that Irving has been playing on an injured foot … for two weeks. What that means isn’t certain. Before Friday’s game, there was little indication that Irving was injured. After all, he averaged 22 points and 4.5 assists in the previous four games.
Meanwhile, LeBron James did as much as he could to fill the gap Friday, but he obviously couldn’t do it all. Sure, he had 27 points and 14 assists. But he shot just 8-25 from the floor, continually missing clutch shots down the stretch. And, with the Cavs already missing star forward Kevin Love to an injury, sub-par performances by Irving would put James in the same situation as he was during his first run with the Cavs – carrying the team on his shoulders.
Irving’s sore foot could be temporary, or just a coach’s ruse. But his production, his minutes, and how he matches with the Bulls’ guards should be monitored starting when Game 4 tips off Sunday.
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