41 and 2: Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love

Kyrie being brilliant and Kevin Love disappearing has us talking….

Kyrie was spectacular tonight and Kevin Love was…what word would you use to describe his performance?

Mallory Stith-Wheat:  Ghastly. Or should it be ghostly? Was he even at the game? Did he hang out with Draymond next door? He played 32 minutes and had two points and 3 rebounds. How is that even possible? Do I need to remind everyone he signed a max contract?

C.J. Hampshire:  Ordinary. Isn’t this what Kevin Love does? He doesn’t have the makeup to be the third wheel. The Cavs need to get him out of there, fast and in a hurry. See if they can get some pieces from the Celtics. It would be a perfect marriage. The Cavs need bench help and the C’s need a player that can only function when he’s the star.

Brendan Gillespie:  I thought firing David Blatt was going to fix the Kevin Love problem.

Julian Billick:  Once Kyrie and LeBron get going like they were tonight, Love seems to fall down the rabbit hole, never to be heard of again. Kevin Love had 41 touches. Kyrie Irving had 77. So as convenient as it is to put it all on Love, and he deserved a little shade because once he saw he wasn’t getting the ball he just quit, Love wasn’t involved in the offense. Same old David Blatt song.

Kyrie has been the most consistent offensive player for the Cavaliers. How surprised are you?

C.J.:  Not at all. He has a mismatch with Curry. He’s an extraordinary scorer with a lot of moves. He’s an iso player that can get his shot off. In game 4, he got tired and he was a little selfish but that’s what an iso player is, he eats first. But tonight was a game for the ages. He didn’t miss. It helped that Curry was no resistance.

Brendan:  LeBron is letting Kyrie do his thing. It’s gotten them two victories. Kyrie is on the national stage and proving that as an offensive talent, he really has no peer. He’s got that old school game and he’s killing the Warriors with it. They just don’t have the wing athletes to defend him.

Julian: I think that LeBron was waiting to trust Kyrie. Kyrie is young. Kyrie was a whole lot of resentful at the ball being in LeBron’s hands all the time when Steph and Lillard are doing crazy things. But once you let that genie out the bottle…LeBron can’t go back to the old way. Kyrie has always felt stifled by the LeBron James show. Now he has it on record, LeBron needs him.

Mallory:   It’s always about LeBron 24-7 and so I think Kyrie has opened some eyes. But he predicted this. He always talked about letting him play his game. This was a special night. The problem with Cavs fans is that Kyrie has set the bar so high I am not sure he can meet those lofty expectations.

Who was the bigger winner tonight, Kyrie or Draymond?

Julian:  Dray. First he proved he wasn’t going to get punked, even if it cost his team a game. And then he proved the Steph Curry show, the Splash Brothers, the Warriors top-10 defense is all about him.

Mallory:  Draymond. The Warriors needed a leader on the court tonight.

Brendan:  A push. Kyrie established himself as a top-5 offensive talent that can guide a team to a pressure win on the road. But Draymond made his point. Everyone knows now who the Warriors really need, who their unanimous MVP is.

C.J.:  Draymond. The Warriors defense was atrocious. Kyrie was great but he made a lot of uncontested shots, just wide open. 10 of his shots were uncontested. He drained 70% of them. Without Draymond, the Warriors don’t know what to do. They depend on him for everything.

How significant is it that LeBron and Kyrie are the first teammates to go 41-41 in a Finals game?

Mallory:  Not really. It’s impressive in the moment. But all it points out is that their supporting cast is garbage. They had to both score 40 to win. Every other single Finals team had a balanced roster.

C.J.:   Small ball failed. The Warriors didn’t have their best all around player so no one was at the rim. Bogut was hurt. And it was a must win for the Cavs. It was a Cleveland perfect storm.

Julian:  It’s one of those things that stat geeks will like but all it came down to is that the two best players on the Cavs showed up when they failed in Game 4. The pressure is still on Cleveland. They have to win on Thursday. Draymond is going to be pumped up.

Brendan:  It was entertaining but not significant. You won’t see that again. This Cavs teams has zero balance. They will only go as far as LeBron and Kyrie will take them. It’s back to LeBron having to score 40 to win. He put this team together. He was the GM. He has to live with their flaws and his own miscalculations.

photo via llananba