About a week ago, Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving took a hard fall against Ukraine in the FIBA World Cup. Irving played in the next game against Mexico with no restrictions, but only scored four points in 24 minutes. Against Lithuania, however, Irving looked like his All-Star self and notched 18 points to lead Team USA in scoring as the Americans won by a final score of 96-68.
The win puts Team USA in the Gold Medal game against the winner of the upcoming France-Slovenia matchup. Jonas Valanciunas, who plays for the Toronto Raptors, led Lithuania with 15 points.
Overall, this was one of Irving's best games in the tournament. There were a few moments defensively where Irving was out of place on defense, but overall, he was active and engaged on that end of the floor. Offensively, this was most everything you expect to see out of Irving. In the first half, he did settle for a few outside shots early in the shot clock, but so did the rest of Team USA's wings. After that, Irving really got into a groove and did a little bit of everything for the Americans' offensive attacks.
Irving also doesn't dominate the ball as much in these games and how comfortable he looks doing so bodes well for the upcoming Cavaliers season. It's a slightly different scenario, as Team USA lacks the traditional-ish low post threat that the Cavs will have with Kevin Love this upcoming season, but there are encouraging signs here. Irving is showing good awareness of where to be off the ball and looks more comfortable in pulling up for shots once he passes the ball.
Still, Irving is still most dangerous with the ball in hands and when he can create. That was showcased as well today, as Irving had no problem getting into the paint today. That also bodes well for Irving's upcoming season, as Love, LeBron James and others will get open looks when the defense collapses on Irving in the paint to try and prevent him from getting an easy layup.
Team USA will play on Sept. 14 at 3 p.m. and will air on ESPN 2.
Below are some clips via the wonderful Scott Rafferty, who you can find on Twitter @crabdribbles.
Kyrie is a magician https://t.co/JzQcsmGROz— Scott Rafferty (@crabdribbles) September 11, 2014
Kyrie ooping it to Davis https://t.co/az1b9z3tcv— Scott Rafferty (@crabdribbles) September 11, 2014