Kyrie Irving is out for at least 2 weeks for the Cleveland Cavaliers. During that time the team will have to learn how to play without their All Star Game MVP. Many have already written the team’s playoff chances off, especially after the blowout loss to the Clippers. Yet that game was already out of control by the time Irving went down and the team did finish a very tough 3 game road trip with a winning record. Tonight’s game against the Miami Heat will be a tough test especially with C.J. Miles and Luol Deng questionable with ankle injuries. Yet the season is not over yet and the Cavs have things to play for, so here are 3 things we will learn while Irving is out:
Is the Young Core Capable of Being Competitive?
One of the issues that is often brought up is that the Cavs built from the draft but may not of drafted well. This time will show whether the team’s young core can stay competitive. That means both inside games as well as in the standings. Can the Cavs make games in March, against very tough teams, close ones, and maybe win a few? Can they stay close to the Atlanta Hawks and New York Knicks in the battle for the 8th playoff seed? Is the team’s talent level enough to make the remainder of the month anything less then one big blowout after another?
Can Dion Waiters Carry a Team?
Make no mistake, those who wondered if the Cavs should build around Waiters instead of Irving will be given their answer. Two weeks without Irving means the team’s offense flows through Waiters and Spencer Hawes. Waiters will have the ball in his hands as often as he likes. Can he facilitate as well as play efficient offense or will he put up big numbers while shooting under 50% on a nightly basis? Will Waiters keep the ball moving on offense or, as he has done often, will he take a pass, dribble back out to half court then try to attack as the defense has time to set itself? Waiters quality of production, not just raw numbers will speak highly regarding his ability to be more then just a high volume scorer. Is he more Carmelo Anthony (inefficient) or more Chris Paul (efficient). Those two players may not be great examples but the point is clear, does he make the team around him better or does he just score points?
Is Spencer Hawes Who We Think He Is or Who He Was?
Since coming over from the 76ers Hawes has been a revelation for the Cavs offense. His 3 point shooting, passing and drives to the bucket have helped the team out tremendously. The Clippers made a clear point to keep him from getting highly involved in the game. With Irving out who Hawes is without a high caliber point guard will be answered. Can he still have a great impact on the team and therefore make himself an important part of the future or will he fade into the backdrop of the player with the 6ers? Can he command attention on defense so the team can take advantage or will he jack up shots left in right to get his numbers?
What are you looking forward to learning about the Cavs while Irving is out? The Cavs had an up hill battle to the playoffs before the injury, how much do you think the injury impacts that?