Why Kyrie Irving's injury sucks for basketball fans
The Cleveland Cavaliers could put out a paper mache effigy of Kyrie Irving, and it would remain intact on an NBA court longer than Irving himself would. It would be easier to hide the effigy on defense too.
Har dee har har.
During Game 1 of the NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors, the already injured Cavs point guard exited the game late. Fans found out why soon afterward.
Not only is this awful news for a player who has finally reached the pinnacle of his playing career, but it's truly heartbreaking for fans as well, fans hoping to experience a more enjoyable series.
Without Irving, the Cavaliers become even more reliant on LeBron James isolation play.
The isolation play has not necessarily been a bad thing for the Cavs, because the Warriors are forced to choose between the lesser of two evils.1. Either they leave some poor sap out on an island against LeBron – either Harrison Barnes, Andre Iguodala, Draymond Green or Klay Thompson – a move that leads to LeBron scoring 44 points like he did in Game 1
2. OR they double-team him, allowing LeBron to pass out to open shooters on the perimeter and giving the Cavs a chance to fight for the offensive rebound 4-on-3.
If you choose the first option, you run the risk of letting LeBron go warpaint berserk. If you choose the second option, you play right into the Cavs' hands.
This is not a bad basis for Cleveland's offense, but without Irving they become too heavily reliant on it for any offensive production.
Irving isn't simply the most talented recipient of LeBron's assists. He isn't just a better version of J.R. Smith. (There is no better version. J.R. is the genuine article.) Irving creates offense all on his own. Using the pick and roll either with Tristan Thompson or Timofey Mozgov, Irving played very well in Game 1. Certainly his floaters, jumpers and assists seemed a bit shoestring, but Irving was talented enough to get the job done.
When LeBron is off the floor – or even when he's on alongside both Thompson and Mozgov – the Cavs have poor floor spacing, and the Warriors defenders are suffocating enough to clog up Cleveland's offense. A slowly chugging Cleveland offense has no chance in a seven game series against Golden State. With Irving out there, the Cavaliers not only are able to live without the floor spacing, but keep energy and pace with the Warriors.
With LeBron playing like he is right now, synthesizing all of the parts of the Cavs machine and going medieval on the Warriors defenders, along with Irving playing well, the Cavaliers clearly had more of a chance in this series than many observers afforded them – myself included. It's still early, but an overtime loss in Game 1 took a gargantuan LeBron James performance ... only to lose. It's possible for the Cavs right now, but it is hard as hell.
More on FanSided:
NBA Finals: Matthew Dellavedova missed Cavaliers team bus after Game 1
Golden State Warriors' map to NBA Finals makes a 'W' (Photo)
Kyrie Irving out for remainder of NBA Finals with fractured kneecap
Riley Curry dancing is why we should be happy the Cavaliers lost (Video)