Kyrie Irving was the #1 draft pick in the 2011 draft, and the first step the Cleveland Cavaliers took towards their current positioning: back to the NBA Finals, with LeBron James commandeering the team, and city. This is Irving’s first postseason and NBA Finals, and it has come to an unfortunate, heartbreaking end.
While trying to execute a routine crossover move on Klay Thompson last night, Irving’s knee buckled, he stumbled, and appeared to be in excruciating pain as he attempted to maneuver around the court by himself. He ended up needing a trainer’s help to get back to the locker room, and the grimaces on his face worsened as he neared the gallows of Oracle Arena. He knew it was over long before we did.
Now, we know. The Cleveland Cavaliers have officially announced that Irving will need surgery on a fractured knee, which will keep him out 3-6 months, and certainly the rest of the NBA Finals. This puts LeBron in the disadvantageous, but familiar position of having to lead an eager group of role players into battle every night against a fine-tuned, healthy, dominant Western Conference Champion (see: 2007 NBA Finals). Kevin Love, whom the Cavs traded their #1 pick, Andrew Wiggins, for in the off-season with the idea that Love gave them a better chance to win right away, has been watching from the sidelines all season after an awkward run-in with Boston Celtics forward Kelly Olynyk in the first round of these playoffs ensured the end of his season.
Last night was a tough one for LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, but let’s keep some perspective on this thing. It’s going to be a long series. They’re only down 2-1, J.R. Smith has returned to the lineup, and they have home-court advantage. The odds are still stacked against the Bulls, which is what made last night’s redemption song such an amazing one.
Still, the Cavs have some glaring problems, aside from the fact that Kevin Love is lost for the rest of the playoffs. Their starting point guard, Kyrie Irving, has taken heat in the past for ineffectively running the offense, and last night was an example of that. Irving started Game 3, played 38 minutes, but had 0 assists. It didn’t help that he had a horrible shooting night (3-13, 11 points) either.
Mark Schwartz of ESPN highlighted this fact during the Cavs’ post-game interview, and reminded LeBron that during a regular season game against the Utah Jazz, Irving had 0 assists, and LeBron made it clear that it wasn’t okay. He went on to ask if, given the circumstances, maybe Irving would get a pass this time around, and LeBron began to mumble some sort of vaguely politically correct response, but by then nobody was listening to LeBron. An expert camera pan caught Kyrie Irving’s reaction to the question, and it was priceless.
Over the last few weeks LeBron James has been racking up accolades. After passing Scottie Pippen for the most assists as a forward and passing Allen Iverson in the all time scorers list LeBron has now passed up his former Miami Heat teammate Ray Allen.
Tuesday night in a game versus the Boston Celtics, boosted by the return of All-Star teammate Kyrie Irving, LeBron was able to score 27 points to help the Cleveland Cavaliers cruise to a 110-79 victory over the Boston Celtics. Those 27 points gave LeBron a total of 24,508 career points, which sits him at 21st all time on the NBA’s all time scoring list.
A few slots higher than LeBron on the list are Patrick Ewing (24, 815), Jerry West (25,192), and Reggie Miller (25,729). At the rate LeBron is going if he’s able to stay healthy, it’s safe to say that he will finish his career among the top 10 all time scorers.