When it comes to Kyrie Irving in elimination games, he’s a straight up Rick James – “Cold Blooded!”
In a backcourt-heavy league where the Splash brothers dominate the headlines and stat sheets almost every night, many forget about the number two man for the Cleveland Cavaliers. But he’s probably used to being overshadowed, especially since his shade looms smaller compared to that of of King James. Yet while the fan consideration of him as NBA elite isn’t as strong as it should be, and his media presence is understandably dwarfed by LeBron’s status, Kyrie’s ability to perform, particularly in elimination games, is undeniable.
In Friday night’s Game 4, the Cavs faced a win-or-go-home scenario. And once again, Kyrie showed and proved in the face of a task made more mentally daunting after a devastating defeat to the Warriors in Game 3 in which his team failed to score a point in the game’s final three minutes.
But the great ones always seem to put those types of games behind them and show up ready for the next one. And that’s exactly what Kyrie did, scoring a team high 40 points in a 137-116 Cavs’ victory, sending the series to Game 5 on Monday night in Oakland.
Kyrie has played in four career playoff elimination games, all during the NBA Finals, and he has never failed to disappoint. Last year in Game 5, he went for 41 points on 17-of-24 shooting. In Game 6, he scored 23 on 7-of-18 shooting. And in Game 7, he dropped 26, connecting on 10 of his 23 shots, including the dagger three pointer over Steph Curry which gave the Cavs its first NBA Championship in team history.
Kyrie understands what these games mean and he’s locked in from the get-go, refusing to crumble or lose despite the odds and doubters.
“It’s do or die. We understand that. Us leading the charge on both ends of the floor, um, you have to demand a lot out of yourself and when you got a running partner like this, as well as great veterans we have in the locker room, it makes the job a lot easier. But obviously the job is still far from over. I mean, we’re still in the hole, we’re still in do or die in every game that we play from now, but this is a good start” said Kyrie after the game to Doris Burke.
And it was a start that the team had to have, otherwise they were done for the season and would have given the Warriors a sweep on their home floor. But instead Kyrie came to play, helping LeBron, Kevin Love and the rest of the team give the Warriors their first loss in this year’s playoffs and, more impressively, their first loss in two months.
Kyrie’s path to greatness was paved with many obstacles. Injuries plagued him early on, even at Duke, where he only played in 11 games before entering the NBA Draft in 2011. In his first six seasons with the Cavs, he missed 111 games, including a fractured knee cap in Game 1 of the 2015 Finals, a series in which you knew that Irving was going to deliver a special performance and give LeBron the reliable second star that he so desperately needed to bring the championship home to Cleveland.
Then last year, a few weeks before the playoffs began, he had to deal with the social media firestorm surrounding his then girlfriend Kehlani, and some began to question whether the talented guard had what it took to be LeBron’s second in command. But after staving off elimination in four straight Finals games last year, Irving was certified as more than just the number two in Cleveland. He forced fans to recognize him as one of the best in the game, period.
A game after going for 38, Kyrie Irving erupted again, dropping a game-high 40 points — including seven 3-pointers, one shy of the NBA Finals record — to lead the Cleveland Cavaliers to a 137-116 win over the Golden State Warriors in Game 4 at Quicken Loans Arena.
After signing a well deserved new contract in the 2015 – 2016 season, one which paid him $17.6 million this season, Kyrie proved himself in the regular season, averaging 25.2 points and 5.8 assists per game, .1 points per game less than Steph Curry. But in the Finals, where the great ones elevate their games to the next level, Kyrie has risen to new heights, averaging 30.3 points per game this year, including another blistering performance in tonight’s elimination game.
Sometimes Kyrie can get lost with all of the debates and attention surrounding LeBron, but when the team needs him, Kyrie’s shadow shines brighter than James’ in a certain manner, reminding everyone that he’s a four-time All Star, the 2014 NBA All Star Game MVP and one of the best players in the league.
On the same day that we celebrated the 25th anniversary of Pete Rock and CL Smooth’s “Mecca and the Soul Brother”, we were treated to an exciting game featuring another incredible duo, LeBron James and Kyrie Irving. Every winning equation has an A and B , a 1 and 2, and as we leaned in the classic “I’m Gonna Git You Sucka”, every good hero should have a theme song.
Well tonight was Kyrie’s night to be a hero once again, and his theme song was simply “Cold Blooded!”
There’s no dictionary book to explain how he looked!!!
Uploaded by Micahisgod on 2010-11-26.