After struggling along with his effectivity in his first three outings following Kevin Durant’s sprained MCL, Kyrie Irving, for the primary time in his profession, has logged three consecutive video games with at the least 30 factors, 5 assists and 5 rebounds.
It began with 30-7-7 in opposition to the Suns. Then 48-11-6 in a win over the Jazz. Finally, Irving went for 38 factors, 9 assists and 7 rebounds in opposition to only one turnover in Brooklyn’s 120-116 victory over the Warriors on Sunday.
But I’m not right here to spotlight Irving’s offense. You know all about that. I’m right here to spotlight his protection, which, comparatively talking, has truly been fairly good for fairly some time now. The effort and a spotlight to element are evident, and the identical footwork that Irving makes use of to dizzy defenders when he has the ball proves simply as helpful when he is on the opposite aspect of the dance.
Watch right here as Irving crowds Stephen Curry beginning at half courtroom, cramping the ball-screen area earlier than placing on a defensive-slide clinic when Curry rejects the display. It kills the entire possession, as by the point Curry offers it up, the Warriors are pressured to ask Klay Thompson to create in opposition to a dwindling shot clock. No cube.
Irving took on the Curry project all night time. He persistently picked up excessive and dared Curry to beat him off the dribble, and save for a few cases within the first half, Curry wasn’t ready to take action. Watch right here on the finish of the third quarter. Irving once more places quite a lot of ball strain on Curry after which, remoted on an island, stays disciplined as Curry tries to shimmy into some form of separation, which he does not get.
Late within the fourth, Curry once more finds himself one on one in opposition to Irving. He tries to go proper and may’t get an inch of separation. Irving fully interrupts his rhythm, so Curry loses his footing and travels.
The frequent denominator on all these performs is how persistent Irving is in crowding Curry’s area with each ball strain and off-ball physicality. The former sometimes asks for bother, as Curry usually goes by guys attempting to protect him that carefully, however Irving can transfer his ft.
To the latter level, the off-ball physicality, watch the sequence beneath. Irving, after once more harassing Curry with ball strain, stays hooked up to Curry as he snuffs out Golden State’s patented break up motion. Curry desires to come back round a display after the ball enters into the publish, however Irving is so tight into Curry that the entire thing is jammed up. Then, when Nic Claxton jumps out to Curry, Irving switches onto a rolling Kevon Looney to thwart that choice, and all of it ends with Jonathan Kuminga having to drive up a shot and Ben Simmons drawing an offensive foul.
That is such good things from everybody concerned. Claxton was superior on this recreation. Simmons was good defensively and dished out 11 assists. Joe Harris hit some huge pictures. Royce O’Neale was nice, as he has been all season. Quite a lot of guys switched onto Curry on this recreation and made him take powerful pictures. By the top you would inform he was indecisive, virtually torpid in attempting to get to his spots, which you do not see usually.
This is the way you hassle an incredible scorer. Curry nonetheless had 26 on simply 16 pictures. He was 4 for 8 from deep. You’re not going to close Curry down. But you may win a possession at a time, and by the top, the cumulative impact of a linked switching effort and fixed ball strain can put on even a celebrity down. From that standpoint, this victory had Irving’s prints throughout it on either side of the ball. You know in regards to the offense. But when Irving performs protection like this, the Nets develop into considerably extra harmful.