CLEVELAND -- The 2017 NBA Playoffs have been a roller coaster of emotions and production for Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving.
From a 0-assist performance against the Indiana Pacers in Game 4 of the first round and back-to-back double-digit helpers in the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Toronto Raptors, to scoring productivity that has been as little as 11 and 13 points but as many as 42 against the Boston Celtics in the East Finals, there have been plenty of ebbs and flows to Irving’s game.
Thus far against the Golden State Warriors in the 2017 NBA Finals, Irving has averaged 21.5 points and 4.5 assists and is shooting only 40 percent from the field. However, Irving has made just three trips to the free-throw line, well under his per-game playoff average.
“Just seeing a lot of bodies,” Irving said. “They’re obviously trying to make a few other guys make plays, and when we’re coming off our isolations, they’re bringing a few more bodies to clog the lane. For us, just see the weak-side action and be able to make the passes.”
The Cavaliers fell into the 0-2 deficit with a 132-113 loss to the Warriors in Game 2 of The Finals, which was played in front of a capacity crowd of 19,596 raucous fans at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California, Sunday night.
The Cavaliers got 29 points, 11 rebounds, 14 assists, three steals and one blocked shot from small forward LeBron James, as well as 27 and 19 points from power forward Kevin Love and point guard Kyrie Irving, respectively.
“Our offense isn’t the problem right now,” Irving said. “We just have to sustain effort over the entire game. We understand how dangerous they are. When you’re down by three, it can turn into an 8-0 run in a matter of seconds. We have to be conscious of that and slow down their fast break more.”
The Warriors turned a one-possession contest into a lopsided affair by outscoring the Cavaliers by 11 points in the third quarter.
Irving made just one of his five attempts in the third quarter.
“They made shots,” Irving said. “A couple shots they made on our breakdown. A few screens here and there got their shooters open, as well as some long bombs, where sometimes, even if you get a great contest, they still knock them down. You have to give credit and respect, but obviously, there are some things we can do to rattle them more.”
Although the Cavaliers again find themselves in an 0-2 hole against the Warriors, teammates remain confident that Irving can get his production back on track in time for Game 3 at Quicken Loans Arena Wednesday night.
“I just tell him to continue to be patient,” James said. “The game will come to you. Just keep asserting yourself. We have to figure out a way to get him going early. He’s been such a big piece of our success the last three years, obviously. We can do a better job of getting him going early. He missed some chippies, ones he’s so accustomed to making.”
Love added, “Like with anybody, we ride or die with Kyrie and all the guys that -- I mean, Kyrie knows what he's capable of in this building, in the league, at our building, so I would imagine Kyrie's going to come out and have a great Game 3.”
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