Cleveland Cavaliers PG Kyrie Irving is one of the best finishers in the NBA and he doesn’t even dunk. How does he stack up against the rest of the NBA?
Kyrie Irving flipped the superstar switch during the Cleveland Cavaliers Game 4 win against the Boston Celtics Tuesday night at Quicken Loans Arena.
With LeBron James in foul trouble, and the Cavs trailing the lesser-opponent Celtics by 16 points in the second quarter, Irving needed to get the Cavs going.
Forty-two points later, Irving had the 20,000+ fans at Quicken Loans Arena “oohing” and “aaahing” all night long.
Irving’s knack for finishing around the basket was in full effect during Game 3. For a guy who doesn’t dunk, it’s pretty darn impressive to see Kyrie work. Just name it, and he can do it. Handles: check. Acrobatic body contortion: check. Ball English: check. Backboard geometric calculations: check. When he’s going to the rim like he was in Game 4, the ball’s likely going through the cylinder.
How does Kyrie stack up against the rest of the association?
Throughout the regular season, Irving field-goal percentage from within the restricted area was ninth among the 33 guards who attempted at least 4.0 shots per game from within five feet.
So Irving wasn’t THE best finisher during the regular season, he was still great. And as the Cavs have taught us during the regular season, those 82 games they’re forced to play is all in preparation for the playoffs.
In Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals, Irving was 15-of-22 from the field. Ten of his shots were within four feet of the rim. In total, Irving made 10 baskets in the paint, tying his career high. He was an incredible 7-of-7 from 0-2 feet in the third quarter.
If you’re going to use the eye test, and I will, while wearing my Wine & Gold colored glasses, Irving is the best point-guard finisher since Tony Parker. Parker–especially in his prime–would often leave fans wondering how he could be so good around the basket without dunking.
And Irving’s the exact same way.
Irving helped the Cavs dodge a huge green and white bullet in Game 4, because when LeBron James left the game in the second quarter in foul trouble, this game was trending Boston’s way.
It’s crazy to think about, especially considering how the first two games of this series played out, but if Irving doesn’t turn it on, the Celtics would be going back to the Garden with the series tied at 2-2.
Having Irving is a luxury that oftentimes gets overlooked. Fans and media alike get so caught up in gushing over LeBron James that it’s forgotten just how elite Irving can be.