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As my brother-in-law Russ pointed out: Kryie Irving transformed himself against San Antonio from a name people recognize into a point of emphasis. He's now: Kyrie. Irving.
I wrote about that at Baller Ball yesterday in the form of a poem . . . because what other form could truly express the metamorphosis Kyrie is currently undergoing? This change began last summer with Team USA and it will continue the longer he plays with a talent like LeBron. Kyrie will never again be just another guy in the League. He's now a first name. And, on nights like the one he had against San Antonio, he's a point of emphasis. Kyrie. Motherfucking. Irving.
The Cleveland Cavs victory in San Antonio, however, was much more than a showcase for Kyrie. Of course, when a guy shoots seven for seven from behind the arc, it's easy to lose sight of everything else as it fades into subtext. Still, this game felt like the postseason has already begun.
Tony Parker scored 31 points, shooting fifteen for twenty-three. Kyrie cannot guard him, just as he cannot guard Kyrie. The problem for San Antonio, which was the key to Cleveland's victory, was that in this turnstile match-up Cleveland's guy was scoring three points for every two points he gave up. Do the math; it's not calculus. Kyrie will have other games where he explodes, where he plays like the progeny of Zeus and rescues Andromeda. But, will he have another night where he goes for 57 and is perfect from behind the arc? Nights like that are few and far between. Nights like that are mythologies in and of themselves.
|LeBron: I thought I killed you already, Cronus.|
Duncan: Don't mistake indigestion for death.
And then there was the one-sided match-up of Tim Duncan versus Kevin Love at the power forward spot. Duncan pick and rolled his way to a near triple double. He scored an easy 18. After all, Cleveland let him roll free for much of the game, unleashing the old man's last drops of youth for one-handed slams and layups that at his age just shouldn't happen. He also had 11 rebounds and 8 assists. On the other hand, Kevin Love scored 8 points, had 5 rebounds, and garnered 2 assists. Kevin Love didn't play poorly, but often times, he seems relegated to or rather may even relegate himself to witnessing the athleticism of LeBron and Kyrie, which doesn't make sense.
As Chris Webber so often points out while announcing Cavs games, Love is a creative force in his own right. His Minnesota teams never made the Playoffs, but much of that was due to a lack of talent and playing in the loaded Western Conference. Too often Love seems to disengage, to lose himself. He doesn't need to score 25 points per game, but the lack of offensive involvement also renders him weaker on the boards and less active defensively. Tristan Thompson's energy off the bench appeared to trouble Duncan much more than the combination of Love and Mozgov. For the Cavs to win the championship, Love, at some point, will have to quit buying into an old Nike campaign and do more than just witness LeBron's superior talent.
|Love: Hey guys, I was thinking tonight maybe I could lead us in scoring.|
Kyrie: Um . . . yeah . . . about that . . . .
LeBron: We'll just have to see how the game unfolds.
This game felt like the microcosm of a series. The first quarter saw the two teams feel each other out. The second quarter saw the collision of LeBron and Kawhi. The third quarter saw Tony torch Kyrie and vice versa. And then it was all: Kyrie. Irving. And ascension.
If these two teams meet in the Finals, it will be awesome. If they don't, whatever teams do will truly be worthy. We are clearly about to witness some wonderful basketball this postseason. The game is in good health, and we should all be in high spirits about it. We could nitpick Cleveland's pick and roll defense right now, but with LeBron's sitting atop Olympus and Kyrie questing to meet him, it may not matter. 57 points, y'all! That's epic as Hades.
Bryan Harvey can be followed on Twitter @LawnChairBoys.