Tag:Kyrie Irving
Posted on: March 8, 2012 9:12 am
Edited on: March 8, 2012 2:12 pm
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Wednesday Night Game-Winner Power Rankings

By Matt Moore and Ben Golliver  


Wednesday night was one of those nights in the NBA. Multiple game winners, so many that we decided we need to break them down, power rankings style. 


1. Rose does MJ: Derrick Rose's game winner had to be the best of the night for pure elegance. It had everything we look for from a winner: at the buzzer, walk off, isolation, high degree of difficulty, total calm, nothing but net. So much was going on in this one. He read the defense patiently, unleashed some crippling dribble moves, created and took the exact shot he wanted and even had large swaths of a road crowd cheering for him. Watch that thing and try not to think Michael Jordan.



2. Kyrie Irving's end-to-end. Irving's dash to the rim for what would be the game winner wasn't 94 feet of basketball brilliance, but it was as close as you want it to be. The fact that Byron Scott had the confidence in Irving to navigate all that space and the tactical knowledge to know the Nuggets wouldn't expect Irving to just get a running start and barrel to the basket deserves some points, while Irving's approach to switch hands on approach shows off his handle. That kid is something special. 



3. Isaiah Thomas read-and-react. Thomas, at his best, is the type of undersized guard that just makes you marvel. That he was the 2011 NBA Draft's "Mr. Irrelevant" just makes the story that much better. Thomas was at his best on Wednesday night, intercepting an idiotic entry pass at full stretch and with perfect timing. Thomas' game is all action/reaction/action and he made an incredibly heady play to move the ball forward to a streaking John Salmons, hitting him in stride. No second-guessing, no covering the ball to allow the defense to react. Just pure open court instinct in a very unusual game situation. The only downside is that it wasn't a walk off winner, or the Power Balance Pavilion might have stormed the court. Thomas' growing reputation for putting smiles on faces continues to grow.

 

4. DWill trusts Farmar. What? Why aren't people flipping out over Deron Williams passing up the crucial shot in the Nets' win over the Clippers like they did with LeBron James? Regardless, Williams made a great play and Farmar didn't get too excited or go hero-mode. He just lined up and knocked down the open jumper. You know, the right basketball play. On the opposite end of the spectrum,CP3 was never going to take that pass, and gambling on it meant he couldn't run Farmar off. Big mistake as Farmar's been en fuego from the outside this year.  



5. Nick Young has daggers on daggers.  If this was later in the game, it would be a top-three candidate. After all, Young did rise and fear to knock off the master of rise and fire. But alas, we had more free throws and missed Kobe Bryant threes to get through before it was said and done. But make no mistake, Nick Young's dagger to punch the Lakers' comeback attempt was the game winner in the Wizards' stunner over L.A.. 

Posted on: March 8, 2012 12:23 am
Edited on: March 8, 2012 12:25 am
 

Video: Kyrie Irving end-to-end game winner

By Matt Moore

With 15 seconds left, down 1 to the Nuggets, the Cavaliers inbounded from their own basket, eschewing advancing the ball to half-court in favor of getting Kyrie Irving at full-speed going to the rim. The Nuggets essentially only needed to get in front of him as he was the Cavs' whole offense down the stretch. Instead...

 

Ty Lawson would miss a driving layup and the Cavaliers hang on to win, 100-99. 

You have to give credit to Byron Scott for trusting Irving in that situation and for getting him the room to operate by inbounding full-court. It goes against traditional thought and involves trusting a rookie to go basically 94 feet against a defender. For Denver, what in the world were they thinking letting him get all the way to the rim? Unbelievable let down by the Denver bigs who needed to step up to help there. 

Irving is 19 years old. Wrap your head around that.
Posted on: February 28, 2012 5:30 pm
Edited on: February 28, 2012 5:42 pm
 

Antawn Jamison, the consummate pro

With his career winding down, Antawn Jamison is still a consummate pro. (Getty Images)

By Matt Moore
 

I've called for Antawn Jamison to be traded, to be benched, to be removed from the Cavaliers by any means necessary. I have an extraordinary quick trigger with rebuilding projects. Lose your best player? Trade absolutely everyone not on a rookie contract for picks and space, bring in D-League guys to try and find a diamond in the rough (like, you know, the Knicks found in Jeremy Lin, because they were lacking in star power). There's no point in veterans on a team like that, no value to their contrct taking up space, their consistent if unspectacular play drowning out younger players. Jamison has no long-term future with the Cavs, is shooting 42 percent from the field, and his usage is tied for fourth higest in his career. 

But beyond all that, you still have to be in the locker room, to talk to these guys to understand why players get the time they do, why Antawn has the role he still has on the Cavaliers (outside of his 19.2 points per 36 minutes and 17.9 PER). Ohio sports blog Waiting for Next Year did a phenomenal post on Jamison and his role with the Cavaliers. A few things struck me:

  • Jamison, despite the God-awful torrent of the past two years of his life which have included the Gilbert-Arenas-gun-fiasco, failing to be the piece to help LeBron get a ring in Cleveland, the 26-consecutive-losses debacle a year ago, and the fact that he started this season horribly, still talks after the game, still goes in depth on every loss like it's something new. That doesn't mean much to fans because, well, who cares about a guy making the media's job easier? Everyone hates the media. But Jamison isn't helping the media, he's taking the responsibility for the team, he's not ducking away or hiding. That takes some brass.
  • He worked out over the summer with Stephen Curry and Anthony Morrow during the lockout in North Carolina. There are so many guys in this league who do nothing to pay forward the help and mentorship they received from older players, so to hear Jamison taking that kind of role in his offseason along with working hard to develop a brotherly relationship with Tristan Thompson is really pretty incredible. 
  • Byron Scott is hard on rookies, like a lot of coaches. The fact that he can count on Jamison to do what he's supposed to is pretty vital. Scot has given Kyrie Irving a shot to lead this team, to take the reins of the franchise. The fact that Jamison is still doing enough to provide support for that and isn't causing issues, like, say, Stephen Jackson is remarkable. (It should be noted Jackson is a reknown teammate and emotional leader for guys.)
  • His story only serves to make the fact that the Cavaliers couldn't win a title that much worse. Boston was such a tough matchup for that team, and was on a such an unlikely and desperate roll. That Cavs team is considered such a failure, but it really was good for most of the year, even if Jamison was still learning to fit in.  
It's worth realizing in this story that there are reasons players aren't traded that have little to do with on-court performance. Jamison's minutes are going to go somewhere, why not to a veteran who creates a positive locker room enviornment? Why not to a leader who does as his coach asks? There will be time for Tristan Thompson, there will be time for others, and Jamison will take that demotion in stride like he did last year when J.J. Hickson (!) replaced him in the starting lineup. 

But maybe it's OK that teams don't run for the hills of youthful failure at warp speed. Maybe there's still room in this superstar, ego-driven league for players like Jamison, good guys who just do their job.  

(Via WFNY
Posted on: February 20, 2012 3:09 pm
Edited on: February 20, 2012 3:18 pm
 

NBA announces All-Star Skills Challenge field

Posted by Ben Golliver  

Russell Westbrook shows off his skills during the 2011 Skills Challenge. (Getty Images)

Wow! Did you just see him dribble around that cone?

On Monday, the NBA announced the field for its annual Skills Challenge, a pointless and confusing event in which players dribble and their pass their way around the court in a timed competition. The Skills Challenge annually serves as a prelude to the Three-Point Contest and Slam Dunk Contest on All-Star Saturday night. This year's group is made up entirely of point guards, including three All-Stars, Tony Parker (San Antonio Spurs), Russell Westbrook (Oklahoma City Thunder) and Deron Williams (New Jersey Nets), two participants in the Rising Stars Challenge, Kyrie Irving (Cleveland Cavaliers) and John Wall (Washington Wizards), and defending champion Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors).

Here's the full explanation of how this event works.
The Taco Bell Skills Challenge was introduced at NBA All-Star 2003 in Atlanta and features six players competing in a two-round timed “obstacle course” consisting of dribbling, passing and shooting stations. All players must observe basic NBA ball-handling rules while completing the course. The three players with the fastest times from the first round advance to the finals with the order of competition determined by inverse order of the first round times. At the discretion of the referee, television instant replay may be consulted for clarification of rules compliance.

The Taco Bell Skills Challenge will be televised live nationally as part of the NBA All-Star Saturday Night. Coverage will begin at 7 p.m. EST from Amway Center in Orlando.

The key components to winning the Skills Challenge are precision and actually giving a (bleep). That tends to favor the younger guys.

Last year, Curry finished first, Westbrook finished second and Wall finished fourth. Williams won the Skills Challenge in 2008. None of the other participants are past champions.

One interesting note: this year's field includes the NBA's top-3 turnover-generating players: Westbrook, Wall and Williams. Irving is No. 13, Curry is No. 18 and Parker is No. 37. 

Handicapping this thing is the definition of a fruitless exercise, but a repeat performance from Curry or a debut victory from Irving would probably be this year's least shocking results.
Posted on: February 20, 2012 12:42 pm
Edited on: February 20, 2012 1:05 pm
 

Eye on Basketball Midseason Awards

LeBron James is having one of the best seasons of his career and is the midseason NBA MVP. (Getty Images)

By Matt Moore
 

The 2012 NBA All-Star break begins this week as this season continues to fly by on a shortened lockout schedule. Already we've seen an incredible year, even in the midst of some ugly, ugly, ugly basketball. The Heat look better than ever, the Bulls are still dominant through injury, the Sixers are impressively complete. The Dwight Howard saga drags on. The Lakers and Celtics are struggling to find their dominant gear. The Thunder are blistering offensively, the Timberwolves surprising and of course, Jeremy Lin, Jeremy Lin all the time. 

With that, here are the 2012 NBA Midseason Awards, based on where we stand on February 20th, 2012. 

Eastern Conference Most Valuable Player: LeBron James


When CBSSports.com's Gregg Doyel wrote that LeBron was different this year, he was spot-on. James has talked about how he spent the summer re-discovering his love of basketball, getting away from all the criticism, and getting back to the person he wants to be. He and the Heat have admitted that the resounding backlash to "The Decision" played a large part in their mental approach to last season. In short, James is not comfortable being bitter, angry, resentful. He's at his best when driven by a simple love of the game. That's the dichotomy with James. He is inarguably the single most arrogant and out-of-touch player in the Association, and yet he does possess a genuine love of basketball. It's always playing at his home. It's something he lights up when he gets to talk about instead of storylines. Basketball came easily to James athletically, but it's also something he works obsessively at. History teaches that you have to hate your opponent, have to be driven by anger and resentment. James is simply not built that way. In reality, he may be too goofy, too fun-loving to ever reach the kind of iconic play that is necessary to be considered one of the best, to have the killer instinct that so many criticize him for lacking, which he himself has admitted he may lack.

None of this changes the fact that there are only three things which can stop James from earning his third MVP this season, should he continue to play as he has for the first half of the year. The first is largely the same reason he failed to win it last season: vengeance. Voters showed their disapproval of James by not truly considering him for the award. Whether it was a distaste for the arrogance of James' approach to leaving Cleveland on national television, a disgust at the preseason championship comments at the presser with the smoke and fireworks, or disappointment with James seeking to team up with two great players instead of winning on his own (an element neither Carmelo Anthony nor Chris Paul have received criticism for), James was shut out, when by most measures, he simply played better than Derrick Rose. Rose was a phenomenal player last season and a wonderful story, well-worthy of the award. However, James was better. Those sentiments have cooled this season, but if voters decide to maintain their teeth-grinding disapproval of James, that could cost him. The second is simple injury. James has only missed a small handful of games, but that can always derail a player's path. And the third is the most likely impediment: minutes.

The Heat did not take the tactic of prioritizing homecourt last season. It wouldn't have mattered, the Bulls were simply better in every way during the course of the regular season. But the Heat were clearly more focused on being healthy for the playoffs than capturing homecourt. And it's likely to be the same this year. The Heat have managed to handle the compact schedule well, outside of some Dwyane Wade bumps and bruises as to be expected. But when March rolls around, this team will start looking for rest, and that means James could sit out several games. The Heat will happily trade in April wins, provided they have a top four seed, for rest. James could lose momentum in that case as he watches from the sideline and another worthy candidate pushes his way to the finish line.

What makes James worthy of the award this year? Pick one. The Heat are the best team in the East, and you may claim that Dwyane Wade is still the focal point of the offense, metrics be damned, and that's fine, but James' overall work on both ends of the floor still takes the notch. Without resorting to statistics, you see James take over games as if he's a one-man army. He's seemingly everywhere, interrupting passes, working in the post, snatching rebounds, blocking shots, lobbing to Wade, dishing to Chalmers, attacking the rim over and over again. It's awe-inspiring basketball. You don't need metrics to see he's the best player in the game this season. This is all factoring in the fact he's taken a step back defensively. He's turned it on the past five or six games, but this hasn't been a season of his usual defensive dominance... and he's still been this good overall.

But if you want them, they bear it out as well. James is enjoying a career high (tied) in points per 36 minutes, rebounds per game and 36 minutes, field goal percentage, True Shooting percentage (factoring 3-point shooting and free throws), and of course PER. The confusion with PER most often is that it somehow measures value, that it establishes how good a player is. Instead, it's just what it's defined as. Player Efficiency Rating. It establishes who produces the most per minute, considering how many possessions they use in doing so. And right now, James is doing the most of any player in history in that department.



So that's fun.

James may not win MVP this year, for a variety of reasons. But there is absolutely no question at this season's halfway mark, that he's the best player in the league, and most valuable.

Western Conference Most Valuable Player: Kevin Durant

If you prefer the classic mold of the MVP, AKA a scoring machine, Kevin Durant fits pretty well. He's a jump-shooter shooting 52 percent from the field. Think about that. The league average is 36 percent. Durant is hitting 15 more shots for every 100 attempts from the hardest place on the floor to knock them down. That's ridiculous. That's just absurd. He is the best pure-scoring machine in the league. Kobe Bryant may topple him for the scoring crown, but he'll need five to six more attempts to do so. The cherry on Durant's Sunday has to be his 51-point explosion Sunday night. He managed 51 points on 28 shots.

And really quietly, Durant's become an elite defender. He's allowing just 26 percent from the field in ISO situations according to Synergy Sports. Defense was a huge weakness in Durant's game over the past few seasons and he's really hit his stride this season. The Thunder aren't even that great defensively, Durant has just been individually incredible.

For him to catch James, he would need for the Thunder to continue their impressive winning percentage. He would need to top the league in scoring, and for his impressive uptick in rebounding rates to continue. It's a tall order, but there's no question he's within range. Durant has become the most impressive offensive force in the league.

He is 23 years of age.

Rookie of the Year: Kyrie Irving

Ricky Rubio is dazzling. He's a phenom. He changes the course of games and wows you with the eyes. No rookie has impressed more than Rubio, who has silenced all his critics, of which I was very much one, regarding his ability translate his game to the NBA level. Rubio is honestly poetry in motion, and the feel he has for the game is joy-inspiring more than awe-inspiring. It is such a fluid and spectacular range of abilities, it makes the Timberwolves so much fun to watch.

And Kyre Irving is a better player.

It's not really close.

Get past the fact that Irving has been shooting at historic levels, that his overall production is in line with some of the all-time greats in this league in their first years. Irving has a mastery of the game that Rubio does not, even after so many more years of playing professionally. Irving can run an offense more completely and calmly, and is a superb crunch time scorer (Rubio is brilliant in that area in his own right). But if you want numbers, it's simple. Rubio's a 38 percent shooter. Irving is a 48 percent shooter. You can talk about how you would prefer your point guard pass than score, but Irving's numbers are truncated by a lack of talent on the Cavaliers, while Rubio has Kevin Love, Michael Beasley (a scorer for all his faults), an emerging Nikolai Pekovic and Derrick Williams.

Rubio would be a fine choice. He's the most exciting rookie. Maybe even the most impactful rookie.

Kyrie Irving is the Rookie of the Year, halfway through. This one will be tight to the finish.

Defensive Player of the Year: Andre Iguodala

I know. It's always Dwight Howard! It has to be Dwight Howard! But here's the thing. Howard's effort hasn't been as consistent this season. Whether it's the trade talk, the lockout schedule effect, coaching, whatever, it hasn't been there. His rebound rate is there, it's the highest of his career. He actually is allowing fewer points per possession than he did last year, but if we consider the lockout effects on all shooting percentages, Howard has slipped from the 96th percentile to the 77th percentile in rank on points per possession. Howard is maybe the most impactful defensive player in the league. But his performance hasn't been worthy of the award this year.

Iguodala, on the other hand, is the star defender on the league's best defense (Philly is tops in defensive efficiency, points per 100 possessions), and is most often given the toughest assignment night in and night out in this league. He is tasked with stopping the best perimeter threat on offense each game, and in doing so, has limited opponents to 35 percent shooting. He is able to body up larger opponents, stick with smaller ones, switch, shift, deter, block, steal, cajole, harass and otherwise make his opponent's life miserable and has done so for the majority of the season.

A close second on this list is Luol Deng, who actually has better marks via Synergy. But a combination of Deng's missed time due to injury, and the Bulls' reliance on help defense under Tom Thibodeau's system barely, and I mean barely, gives Iguodala the edge here. Dwight Howard will wind up winning this award, but ask yourself, is it more difficult to shut down perimeter elite scorers in this league or to stop the awful, horrible batch of big men currently roaming the lanes?

6th Man of the Year: James Harden

Harden should be starting. By any and all accounts, he is a much better player than Thabo Seofolosha, or Daequan Cook, or whoever you want to start at two-guard for the best offense in the land. Harden should be the starter, he plays starters minutes, he finishes like a starter, he's close with the starters, he's a star in his own right. And yet, he's much better off the bench. He provides the Thunder with not only a scorer off the pine, but an offensive creator, maybe his best asset. Harden can run the offense, he facilitates, and can make a play go even off-ball. He's a capable if not excellent defender, and his decision making and effort is often times the difference in close wins and losses for OKC.

This award has been wrapped up for a good long time.

Coach of the Year: Doug Collins

The Philadelphia 76ers have the third seed in the East as of this writing, with signature wins over the Lakers, Bulls, Magic, and just about everyone not from South Beach. Doug Collins has managed to turn a team without a central star, without an Isolation scoring threat, without a dominant big man or an all-world point guard (no offense to the brilliant Jrue Holiday) into a powerhouse that overwhelms teams with defense, savvy, bench scoring, team play, and fortitude.

The players genuinely love to play for Collins and he's gotten through to them to a man. Spencer Hawes is playing well, for crying out loud. Elton Brand is producing. Iguodala is having the best overall season of his career by the eye test. They have the best defense, the best bench, the best record in a tough division. Collins has done an incredible job and is every bit deserving of this award as much for his process as the results it has garnered.

Most Improved Player: Jeremy Lin

What were you expecting? Usually second-year players are exempt in my eyes. They're supposed to develop and improve in their second season. But Lin is a special case. Lost in the Linsanity and all the great storylines surround him is the fact he has talked a lot about what the D-League did for him. This league too often doesn't allow players to develop, simply shreds them through and only the strong survive. Lin is a testament to the idea that players can develop, can improve, can learn this game and get better to the point of success. He's improved the most simply by making himself relevant, let alone raising New York from the dead for 15 percent of the season.
Posted on: February 16, 2012 8:51 pm
Edited on: February 16, 2012 8:52 pm
 

NBA holds Rising Stars draft for rookies, sophs

By Matt Moore 

The NBA held the 2012 Rising Stars Challenge draft Thursday night, the first time the two selected celebrity coaches would draft their own teams from the available pool of eligible selected rookies and sophomores. Shaquille O'Neal and Charles Barkley alternated picks on a live telecast on NBATV, with Barkley coming away with a well-rounded, not-as-star-studded roster and Shaq essentially taking Blake Griffin, Greg Monroe and a bunch of guards. 

Jeremy Lin was a late addition to the pool, along with Norris Cole, after Lin's meteoric rise to stardom created a public outcry to place Lin into the competition. 

Notable from the selections were O'Neal taking Blake Griffin first overall, John Wall sliding to the seventh pick, Lin going second overall to O'Neal's team and an amazing instance of serendipity as Charles Barkley, a brash, rebounding, aggressive big man took DeMarcus Cousins, who is very much in line with the traits Barkley possessed at his age. 

Kyrie Irving going first for Barkley's team shows how strongly most consider the sharpshooting Rookie of the Year leader. 


2012 NBA Rising Stars Challenge

TEAM SHAQ

VS.

TEAM CHUCK

Blake Griffin

VS.

Kyrie Irving

Jeremy Lin

VS.

DeMarcus Cousins

Ricky Rubio

VS.

Gordon Hayward

Markieff Morris

VS.

Paul George

Greg Monroe

VS.

Derrick Williams

Landry Fields

VS.

MarShon Brooks

Norris Cole

VS.

John Wall

Kemba Walker

VS.

Tiago Splitter

Brandon Knight

VS.

Evan Turner

Tristan Thompson

VS.

Kawhi Leonard

Posted on: February 15, 2012 1:00 pm
 

Kyrie Irving (concussion) cleared to return

Kyrie Irving has been cleared to return after suffering a concussion. (Getty Images)
Posted by Ben Golliver 

The Cleveland Cavaliers will get their point guard back.

The team announced Wednesday that standout rookie Kyrie Irving has been cleared to return to the court for Wednesday night's game against the Indiana Pacers.
Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving has been cleared to resume game play by Cavaliers Team Physician Dr. AJ Cianflocco of the Cleveland Clinic. Irving suffered a concussion during the fourth quarter of the Cavaliers game at Miami on Feb. 7 and missed the past three games. He will be active for tonight’s game against the Indiana Pacers at The Q at 7:30 p.m.
Irving missed three games after sustaining the head injury against the Heat last week, missing a Cavaliers win over the Los Angeles Clippers and losses to the Milwaukee Bucks and Philadelphia 76ers.
 
A front-runner for Rookie of the Year, Irving is averaging 18.0 points, 5.1 assists, 3.5 rebounds and shooting 49.2 percent from the field in 29 minutes per game. Prior to the concussion, Irving had appeared in every game for the Cavaliers.

Last Wednesday, Irving was listed as day-to-day before Cavaliers coach Byron Scott announced last Friday that Irving would miss last weekend's games as he awaited medical clearance.

At the start of the 2011-2012 season, the NBA implemented a new policy for handling concussions and a player's return to the court. 

In other Cavaliers injury news, the team announced last weekend that big man Anderson Varejao suffered a fractured wrist and is out indefinitely.
Posted on: February 10, 2012 11:47 am
 

Irving out at least two more games

By Matt Moore 

Cavaliers coach Byron Scott told reporters Friday that Kyrie Irving would miss both Friday and Saturday night's games for the Cavs while recovering from a concussion he suffered Tuesday night against Miami. 

Scott did not say when Irving would retur, only that he would not play this weekend. The NBA has instituted new policies regarding concussions in an effort to be more aware of the dangers involved. Reserve point guard Ramon Sessions will once again start in his place. The Cavaliers signed former Nets guard Ben Uzoh from the NBA D-League to provide depth. 
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com