Kyrie Irving is the man of the hour, on the heels of a brilliant offensive performance in Game 5 where he tallied 41 points and 6 assists, shooting 71 percent from the field and hitting 5 of 7 from three.
“Kyrie will blow by anybody,” Smith spewed on First Take. “He is deceptively quick. His handle is nasty. He can boogie on anybody and more importantly he is incredibly fearless. He is so totally unfazed by the moment. Im not gonna sit up there and tell you he’s D-Wade for example, because we all know what an elite closer D-Wade is, plus he has the experience and three championships to validate and substantiate his hall of fame credentials but in the case of Kyrie Irving talk about a younger version of a dude that literally is capable of saying give me the damn ball, get out of the way — I got this.”
“That brother is cold-blooded man. This is an indication for things to come, not just for Game 6 or Game 7 but for his career. Kyrie Irving can do this to anybody, on any stage, and he’s not backing down.”
Smith isn’t wrong to boast about Kyrie’s game last night, and actually made a more appropriate comparison in pointing to Allen Iverson, another one-sided star. Irving performed admirably in an elimination game and has been stellar on the offensive end for the series, averaging 28.2 points on a Steph Curry-like 49-41-91 (FG-3FG-FT) shooting split.
However, let’s not sit there and pretend he’s been dominant for any significant length of time in his career. He had a wildly inconsistent season, shooting just 32 percent from deep.
Also keep in mind Kyrie continues to be a disaster defensively, ranking 451st among all NBA players (didn’t even realize there were that many) in ESPN’s Defensive Real Plus Minus this season.
Before Game 5, the Cavs allowed 16 points per 100 possessions less when Irving was off the court, per ESPN. It’s an obvious indication of his defensive shortcomings.
Dwyane Wade, at his peak, was a two-way force — a dynamic player on the ball as both a scorer and creator. Defensively he was a turnover-creating menace, the best shot-blocking guard ever, and had the chops to lock down the opposing team’s best player in crunch time.
The ONLY element of Irving’s game you could favor over prime Wade is his three-point shooting. That’s it.
Applaud Kyrie’s offensive brilliance but the superstar labels and comparisons need to be grounded considering he’s only super on one end of the floor.