On a typical night, LeBron James has the ball in his hands when the game is on the line for the Cleveland Cavaliers. Tonight, however, was Kyrie Irving's night.
With 16 seconds left in the game and nine seconds left on the shot clock, the Cavs took the ball in off a timeout. Irving took the ball at the top of the key and was guarded by New York Knicks guard Iman Shumpert. As Cavs forward Kevin Love came to set a pick on Shumpert, Irving drove the opposite way, blowing by Shumpert. Once he got to the lane, Irving made a contested shot and gave the Cavs a 90-87 lead. A missed 3-pointer by Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony, and the subsequent scramble for the rebound that ran out the clock, gave the Cavs their fifth straight win.
Irving led all scorers with 37 points and he also had two assists. James finished with 19 points, while Love finished with 11. Tim Hardaway Jr. lead New York with 20 points off the bench, while Anthony finished with nine on 4-19 shooting.
- Irving is a point guard - but he's not a traditional one. His size - Irving 6'3" and 193 pounds - makes him a point guard, but his game is more resemblant of what we'd expect from a shooting guard, more James Harden then Chris Paul. He's without question a score first point guard.
- As a result, a lot is made of Irving's assist numbers. He had two, but both came in the fourth quarter. But let's note something about those numbers: If Irving didn't score as much as he did, there is no way the Cavs ultimately win this game. James and Love were a combined 11-28 from the field. Only two other Cavaliers - Anderson Varejao and Dion Waiters - shot 50 percent from the field.
- This also is the beauty of the Cavs' roster. James is probably the best passer on the team (he had 12 assists tonight) and both Varejao and Love are excellent passers for their size. On a night like this, where Irving handles the brunt of the scoring load, it's more than okay for Irving to have low assist numbers. His game, and the Cavs roster, mean he doesn't need to hold to what we historically have expected from point guards.
- One main reason the Cavs won tonight was the huge difference in the number of free throws taken by both teams. The Cavs were 21-26 from the line tonight, while the Knicks were 5-6.
- On the heels of Mike Miler's play against the Bucks on Tuesday, it wasn't a surprise to see him get extended minutes tonight. And as a result, the Cavs rotation was again shuffled. Miller only played 12 minutes, but he did see time in the fourth quarter and didn't come out until 2:28 was left to play. With Matthew Dellavedova not that far away from returning from his knee injury (Dellavedova went down Nov. 5 when the Cavs played the Jazz and was expected to be out 4-6 weeks and it's been more than four), it should be interesting to see if David Blatt ultimately settles on a rotation of sorts.
- Read this piece on Love by FTS' William Bohl. It's amazing.