Over these past two games against the Minnesota Timberwolves and San Antonio Spurs, All-Star Kyrie Irving has looked very tired out on the court. He admitted to being worn out on Twitter following the T’Wolves game:
Body actually starting to feel like I’ve been in the league ina while, game ready is my best friend right now
— Kyrie Irving (@KyrieIrving) February 12, 2013
Irving has shot 11-of-35 (31.4 percent) from the field and has scored 26 points. He has only made one three pointer in that same time. The All-Star point guard did play a big role in Cleveland’s three-game winning streak starting with a win against the Oklahoma City Thunder. They almost knocked off two of the best teams in the Western Conference in less than two weeks, but a forced attempt at the end of Wednesday night’s game sent Cleveland into the All-Star break on a three-game losing streak.
Kyrie will have Thursday to rest before he begins his crazy weekend in Houston, which will consist of two games and a three-point shootout. Out of the four main events, Irving will be the only player competing in three out of the four, and he’s not even 21-years old yet. He dominated the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge last year, as he led all scorers with a 34-point performance including 8-of-8 shooting from three. He was the MVP of the game last season and looks to continue his dominance over players in his same age bracket.
The game will take place on Friday at 9 p.m. on TNT at the Toyota Center. Irving, who was selected third overall behind Damian Lillard and Anthony Davis in the Rising Stars Draft, will be teamed up with Lillard, Andrew Nicholson, Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes, Chandler Parsons, Dion Waiters, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Tyler Zeller and Kemba Walker. There are a lot of interesting pairings that Shaquille O’Neal – the coach of Kyrie’s team – could go with.
Intriguing mixtures include the backcourt tandem of Thompson and Irving, Parsons working with the Cavalier on the wing and 2012 draftees Kidd-Gilchrist and Barnes. The Wine and Gold didn’t have the opportunity to draft Kidd-Gilchrist, as he went to the Charlotte Bobcats two picks before Cleveland chose, but Barnes was an option. I’m not sure how much Kyrie will play due to his other obligations, but knowing him he will want to play as much as possible and will compete for a chance to win back-to-back MVP honors.
On Saturday at 8:30 p.m. on TNT, Irving will be competing against Paul George, Steve Novak, Ryan Anderson, Matt Bonner and Stephen Curry in the Foot Locker Three-Point Contest. Irving is currently shooting 42.5 percent from three, which is good for 7th among players who have put up at least 190 attempts from beyond the arc. Curry, Novak and Bonner are among the top contestants in three-point percentage, as they are all shooting around 45 percent from long range.
Irving, who puts up around five three pointers per game, will have a rough time hanging with the elite three-point shooters in the NBA on Saturday. My prediction is that Novak will be donning the championship belt after the contest is all said and done, but Curry could very much so knock everyone out. These are arguably the best pure shooters in the league, and it’s great to see the NBA recognizing the best while the Sprite Slam Dunk Contest continues to feature minor contributors.
The former Duke Blue Devil will close out his wild weekend with an appearance in the All-Star Game. The game will also take place on TNT, but will be aired on Sunday at 8 p.m. Irving, who was voted in by Eastern Conference head coaches, will be joining starters Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James, Kevin Garnett and Dwyane Wade and reserves Chris Bosh, Tyson Chandler, Luol Deng, Paul George, Jrue Holiday, Brook Lopez and Joakim Noah. The Eastern Conference All-Stars head coach Erik Spoelstra said that he would be implementing Bosh into the starting lineup in place of the injured Rajon Rondo. I personally believe that a backcourt member should be switched out for a fellow point or shooting guard, but it is indeed up to the coaches.
Irving and company will be going up against Kevin Durant, Blake Griffin, Dwight Howard, Kobe Bryant, Chris Paul, LaMarcus Aldridge, Tim Duncan, James Harden, David Lee, Tony Parker, Zach Randolph and Russell Westbrook. Gregg Popovich will be the coach of the Western Conference All-Stars.
Although he wants it, there is no time for Irving to rest before his duties begin on Friday. Hopefully we will see the former Rookie of the Year at his best this coming weekend.