Kyrie Irving has made an immediate impact this year for the Cavs and has shown the world why he was selected #1 overall, even after playing only 11 games at Duke due to injury. The 19 year old Irving continues to come through in clutch situations, which was evident in the team’s last two games. Sunday against the Sacramento Kings Irving was fouled with 0.4 seconds remaining in the game and the Cavs down by one when he went to the foul line. He calmly sank both foul shots, giving the Cavs the 93-92 win, finishing with 23 points. He followed Sunday’s clutch performance with another impressive showing last night at the Q. The team was carried by Antawn Jamison through the first three quarters of the game, but once again, the rookie came through when it mattered most. The Cavs entered the fourth quarter down 11 and down as many as 17 late in the third quarter before starting a late game rally led by Irving and Alonzo Gee. The combination of Irving and Gee was responsible for 30 of the Cavaliers’ 35 fourth quarter points. Irving scored 17 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter, which included a pair of 3’s to jump-start the rally. His no look, over the shoulder fast break pass to Gee for an open dunk intensified the comeback.
These two most recent displays of Kyrie’s ability to come up big in late game situations are just the latest in Irving’s already impressive resume of late game heroics. On January 29 in Boston, Kyrie became the third youngest player in the NBA since 2002-2003 to hit a game winning shot with under three seconds remaining. His driving layup with 2.6 seconds left sealed the Cavs 88-87 victory over the veteran Celtics. This situation was nearly identical as a month earlier in Indianapolis against the Pacers when Kyrie broke down his defender to get a clear path to the basket, but missed the layup at the end of regulation, resulting in a Cavaliers overtime loss. His ability to get to the rim showed he was a special player. February 4 against the Dallas Mavericks was another night where Kyrie showed his late game maturity when he made a reverse layup with 15.8 seconds remaining to get the win over the defending champions.
The most important thing about all these late game spectacles is that Kyrie has restored hope for the Cleveland Cavaliers and its fan base. After last season’s record of 19-63, most Clevelanders felt that LeBron ripping our hearts out had set this franchise back years. However, Kyrie has quickly given the city of Cleveland reason to believe in what the Cavs are and will be in the years to come. He is a team oriented player who has shown he has the ability to finish games late. The Cavaliers are in good hands with Irving. In a point guard driven league, he is the right guy to lead this team into the future.
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