The Philly-Cleveland matchup last night was the back end of a home-and-home after Andrew Bynum‘s return to Philly on Friday night. The Cavs suffered a tough 15-point loss that night, but back in Cleveland on Saturday night, the matchup turned away from Bynum’s lost 2012-13 season to the future with a shootout featuring the exciting young point guards for both teams. Third-year guard Kyrie Irving finally bested the rookie Michael Carter-Williams at the end of the second overtime.
Irving has started slow this season, shooting under 40 percent through the season’s first six games. He was especially off on Friday night in Philly, going 4-for-17 in the 15-point loss on the road. But that changed last night. He was all over the court, shooting 15-for-33 from the field and 5-for-12 from three on his way to a game-high 39 points along with 12 dimes and 5 boards. It was his best game of the season, and hopefully for Cavs fans it knocks the stink off his output through the season’s first week and a half.
But the surprising Sixers weren’t going down without a fight. Thaddeus Young and Evan Turner — possible trade candidates before the February deadline as the Sixers look to rebuild — combined for 60 points and rookie point guard MCW did his best to match Kyrie. The former Oragemen’s point guard scored 21 points on an efficient 9-for-17 from the field (including a perfect 3-for-3 from deep) with 13 dimes and only 4 turnovers. With less than 20 seconds remaining in the second overtime, the Sixers rookie hit a step-back three in Irving’s eye that tied the score and reiterated MCW’s embryonic ROY candidacy.
Just a filthy shot from the former ‘Cuse point guard to almost force a third overtime. Irving would need all of his talents on Saturday night to get the Cavs a victory at home.
Despite Irving’s big game, he missed two opportunities to put the Sixers away at the end of regulation and the first overtime. Still, he was not to be denied on this night. With time running down at the end of regulation and the first overtime, Irving had driven into the heart of the Cavaliers defense, but in both instances he couldn’t connect.
In the first, at the end of regulation, he missed a righty scoop layup after jumping across the lane. It just rimmed out after bouncing off the backboard. At the end of the first overtime, he missed a lefty leaner in the lane as the Cavs again collapsed around him.
Finally, in the second overtime, after Carter-Williams’ step-back three tied the score at 125, Irving finally finished at the rim with only 0.6 seconds remaining on the clock.
MCW’s didn’t have enough left in the tank after playing superbly all game. He turned the ball over on the Sixers’ final possession, and the chance for a repeat of Jeff Green‘s 0.6 second heroics the same night was not to be. Kyrie Irving earned this Cavs victory with his continued drives to the hoop after two failed attempts to win it earlier in the game, and Michael Carter-Williams continues to show everyone he’s got a very real future in the Association.
Man, we love this game.
What did you think of Irving and MCW’s performances?
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