Kyrie Irving has been terrible during the NBA Finals on both sides of the court. His defense is finally costing the Cavs dearly.Kyrie Irving being healthy this time around was supposed to be a positive for the Cleveland Cavaliers in round two against the Golden State Warriors.
So much for that.
The Warriors have exposed Irving on a national stage making his defense a punchline, much like James Harden‘s before it. If you’ve watched Irving at all during the Cavs sixteen playoff games you probably aren’t surprised by his defensive meltdown in the finals.
This isn’t completely surprising. Irving’s been bad on defense the entire playoffs and regular season. The Cavs likely hoped he would make strides forward on defense this season after coming back fresh from knee surgery. Somehow, Irving regressed.
Once again Irving crippled his team on defense. He had a negative defensive box plus-minus for the fifth straight season, making it every year of his career. Irving’s defensive real plus minus of -3.20 ranked him 83rd among 85 qualified point guards (via ESPN).
In his 1,667 minutes on the floor, the Cavs allowed 104.7 points per 100 possessions. In the 2,304 minutes without him, that number dips all the way down to 100.5 (via NBA.com).
It’s been even worse in the playoffs. In the 572 minutes with Irving, they’re allowing 108.1 points and in the 196 minutes without him the numbers dips all the way down to 93 points (per 100 possessions).
According to NBA.com, Irving has defended 166 field goal attempts in the playoffs and 90 of them have been makes. This mean players are shooting 54.2% when Irving is defending, a whopping 9.3% better than the normal field goal percentage of a shooter throughout the season.
Through two finals games, Irving’s 12 of 36 from the field and 1 of 7 from three point range. As many have noted, Irving has just five assists to six turnovers.
The Cavs aren’t losing because James has been great and Irving hasn’t been there to help him though. It’s because neither has been on the top of their game. Expect that to change in Cleveland with a big game 3 from LeBron. Who knows what we’ll be getting from the Cleveland point guard though?
Kyrie Irving was supposed to solve LeBron’s Warriors’ problem, not create more. So much for that.