Why should I go into a Cleveland Cavaliers game with the mindset that I expect them to compete in the fourth quarter? All season long the problem has been blowing close games in the final 12 minutes of a game, but riding a two-game winning streak, I trusted my beloved Cavs. Overcoming an 11-point deficit in the final frame in a back-and-forth uphill battle with the Toronto Raptors was a satisfying feeling, and Irving has quite possible had the most impressive week of any 20-year old on the planet.
After joining Kobe Bryant, Magic Johnson, Isiah Thomas, Shaquille O’Neal, Kevin Garnett and LeBron James as the only players to be elected to an All-Star game before turning 21 years of age, Irving finished the week with three wins and three performances of 30+ points. He also missed his career high (41 points) by one point in a fourth quarter comeback win over the Boston Celtics. Cleveland put together their first three-game winning streak since March 7-11, 2012. All three games involved the Cavs having to overcome the other team in the fourth, something they haven’t been proficient at this season.
Irving was smooth last week, combining for 35 points in the fourth alone. He averaged 35.7 points, four assists, four rebounds, 1.7 steals and 36.7 minutes. Irving did this all while shooting blazing numbers from the field: 61.2 percent from the field (on 41-of-67 shooting from the field), 54.5 percent from three and 94.7 percent from the free throw line. Kyrie is actually shooting 91.5 percent from the charity stripe in the month of January. We could be seeing an Eastern Conference Player of the Week Award coming Irving’s way pretty soon.
His clutch game has finally arrived at a level only few players in the league could match. Last season Kyrie relied on driving to the hoop to close out games, but now his perimeter game has been appearing late in the game instead of his impeccable finishing moves. Let’s revel in the greatness of the game winner against the Raptors before we start a new week of Cavaliers basketball.
After seeing the beauty in visual form, here’s some short fixed form poems commemorating Kyrie’s clutch three-point winner against the Raptors:
Kyrie Irving – clutch
Augmenting his play and range
When the teams need it
He’s a swirving
Calm and collected from three
It’s a guarantee
Jose had him again
But he had just been named All-Star
We have the most certain leader
Who gets buckets by the liter
From twenty-one feet
He made it look sweet
But know this is just the teaser