Kyrie Irving: The Prince of Cleveland


Congratulations to the Cleveland Cavaliers on becoming the 2015-2016 NBA Champions! After being forced into a 3-1 hole, the Cavaliers made history and became the only team in NBA history to come back from that deficit to win a championship. LeBron James took home the Bill Russell Final’s MVP Award, but there is a case that can be made for Kyrie Irving to also have won the award. With all the respect to James, Irving played almost just as well in the games they won, especially the last three win or go home situations. James is without a doubt the king of Cleveland, but Irving has solidified himself as the Prince. 

Let us rewind back to the beginning. In Game One of the Finals, Irving scores 26 points, but fails to produce very much in all other categories. Shooting a miserable 7-22 from the field, including just 1-4 from behind the arc, Irving seemed out of focus. He would finish the night with almost as many turnovers as assists and walked off the court after a 15 point loss. Game two would come a few days later and Irving would give his worst performance of the series. Shooting 5-14 in total and 0-3 from three, Irving couldn’t hit water if he jumped out of a boat. Ending the night with a stat line of 10 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist and 3 steals, Irving knew he would have to do a complete 180 if he and his team were going to have a chance at winning the trophy.

In Game 3 at home, Irving would begin to show everyone that LeBron wasn’t the only member of the royal family on the Cavaliers. A switch flipped for Kyrie and he shot his way to a 30 point outing. Hitting nearly half of his attempts from the field, he also dished out 8 assists and grabbed 4 rebounds for his team, helping them smash the Warriors in a 120-90 win. Game 4 came and Kyrie continued his hot streak. Dropping 34 points in a loss is a tough pill to swallow, but Irving did everything he could to keep his team in the game. Collecting 4 rebounds and handing out 4 assists helped his cause, while also snatching 3 steals and only committing 1 turnover throughout the entire game. Though he only made 33% of his shots from deep, he would shoot 50% from the field all together, hitting 14 of his 28 attempts. The series would shift back to Oakland and Irving knew he would have to play an even better brand of basketball next game if he and his team wanted to avoid being beaten two years in a row.

With everything on the line, Kyrie would not be out performed by anyone on the court that night. Dropping a career playoff high 41 points, Irving matched LeBron every step of the way in route to a 112-97 victory. Irving’s hand seemed to have caught fire and the Warrior’s Splash Brothers couldn’t douse his flames out. Making 17 of his 24 shots, including a spectacular 5 of 7 from three, Kyrie was busting out all his moves against the Warriors. Whether he was driving to the hoop or fading away, anything he put up seemed to fall effortlessly. He would also play a major role on the defensive end, adding another 2 steals to his total for the series. While his counterpart Curry would go for 25, he was held to 38% from the field and 33% from three, a far cry from the numbers Warrior fans are used too seeing their MVP put up. LeBron would have a superior Game 6, but Irving still put up respectable numbers in the victory in Cleveland.

In 39 minutes of play, Irving would shoot 7-18 and 2-5 from three, not his best performance but he still managed to score 23 points and hit all seven of his free throws. He also brought down 4 rebounds, added 3 assists and again showed his defensive presence by stealing the ball twice from the Warriors, bring his total to 14 in the series. While LeBron may have stolen the show with his second straight 41 point game, Irving was still making sure his presence was felt every minute he was on the court. Now we have reached the ending, the greatest ending a series can hope for, a decisive Game 7. Playing all but five minutes exactly, Irving was making shots when the Cavaliers needed them the most. On multiple occasions, Kyrie got to the basket on a great dribble penetration move and finished after contact. He truly came to life in the third quarter, where he scored 12 of his 26 points, dominating the Warrior’s lackluster defense. No shot would mean more than the one with :53 seconds remaining on the clock. Kyrie was staring down Curry, dribbling between his legs trying to create just enough space to get a clean shot off and he did. With Curry’s hand in his face, Irving knocked down the game sealing three, forcing the Warriors into a panic mode, knowing they had to make their next three-point attempt or else the game was over.

After the final buzzer sounded, Kyrie and his teammates were finally named NBA champions. Bringing the city its first title in any major sport in over half a decade. Both James and Irving finished with great numbers for the series, crowing themselves the King and the Prince of Cleveland. Kyrie averaged 27.1 points, 3.8 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 2.1 steals per game while shooting 46% from the field, 35% from three and 93% from the line. But the real stats that matter are what he did after being down 3-1. From Game 5 to Game 7, Irving averaged 30 points, 3.3 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 1.6 steals per game and shot 52% from the field and from three and 100% from the free throw line, hitting all 13 of his attempts. Most people say every king needs a good queen, but Cleveland has a Royal Family of their own, King James and Prince Irving. Once again, congratulations to the Cleveland Cavaliers, your 2015-16 NBA Champions!

About Emanuel Godina

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