Whether it was a game-winning pull-up three-pointer in Game 7 of the NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors or the fourth quarter of a November game against an Eastern Conference rival, Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving has shown how explosive he can be on the offensive side of the floor.
The Cavaliers struggled to shoot the ball for much of their 112-108 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia on Sunday afternoon, but when time called for it, Irving stepped up at the perfect time.
Irving sunk seven of his 10 shots and five of his three-point attempts on the way to a 19-point fourth quarter of the victory over the 76ers.
“Could you not like anything he did in the fourth quarter?” small forward LeBron James said. “He was due for one of those. I knew he was going to try to get some get-back after last time with his performance in Philly, and he did that.
“For our team, whoever has the hot hand, we want to continue to get it to him. Kyrie understands what needs to be done in order for us to win. He showcased that.”
When asked about his ability to beat defenders off the dribble and use driving lanes to his advantage, Irving credited his father, and also, his hometown in New Jersey as reasons for his success.
“I’ve learned a lot from my dad,” Irving said. “He put the ball in my crib, as cliché as that is, but he did. He gave me a lot of fundamentals that I could definitely utilize, but where I’m from in Jersey and New York, it’s about the one-on-one competition, the crowd getting into it and they want to see the one-on-one play. I grew up around that culture, and now, I get to utilize it in the NBA.”
The Cavaliers missed their first 14 looks at the basket and made only seven of their 27 shots in the first quarter and trailed from the start of the game until Irving gave the team an 85-84 lead with a driving layup with 9:22 to play in regulation.
Irving scored 19 of the Cavaliers’ 35 points in the final quarter.
“It’s just about picking and choosing, knowing where your spots are,” Irving said. “When you have great players on this team, it could come from any of us at any given moment. When one of us gets it going, we always continue to go back to that person. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
“Whether it’s needed for me to get however many in the fourth quarter or Kevin or ‘Bron or Champ or Channing, it could be anybody’s night. We’ll always trust in the pass and we’ll always trust in each other and make each other better. That fourth quarter was just time for me to take over.”