A New Beginning


Photo from Boston Celtics Twitter

“I want a trade.” Those words rattled the Cleveland Cavaliers, who had just lost to the Golden State Warriors, when their star point guard Kyrie Irving had a surprising trade request. Irving immediately received a lot of criticism from the media who argued he can’t carry his own team to the playoffs. Some believed that he was just insane to leave the comfort of Lebron James.

Even some of Irving’s fans had doubts about his request. “Seeing Boston as one of the sports cities out there with the crazy fans over there, I didn’t think he would do as well as he is right now,” junior Cesar Hernandez expressed. “I was part of those critics.”  The critics grew even louder after fellow all-star and new Celtic Gordon Hayward suffered an injury in the season opener against Cleveland.

After starting 0-2, the Celtics went on to win sixteen games in a row, the biggest one against the defending champions the Golden State Warriors and finals MVP Kevin Durant after being down 25 points. Even though, he is not scoring as much in the fourth quarter like previous point guard Isaiah Thomas did, he is doing it in fewer minutes.  Eight of the sixteen games required Irving to lead final-quarter comebacks averaging 7.3 points. Kyrie took this as his chance to silence the critics and, as of now, a chunk of his points come in the final five minutes, crunch time, which places him third in NBA clutch time scoring.

It’s not just his offensive game that’s impressive. Irving’s commitment on defense is also remarkable. Irving is averaging a career best 1.9 steals per game and fourth overall in rotations per minute, which, in turn, improved the defense of the team as whole as they lead the NBA on defensive with the rating of 95.8. So far, Irving is fitting in his new role as a leader with the Celtics as his team sits first in the Eastern Conference, despite the loss of Hayward who is set to return soon.

“Seeing now that he (Irving) is the leader of the team especially with Hayward gone, I feel that he is showing more leadership role,” Hernandez mentioned. “He is having the ball more in the fourth than he was with Lebron, taking the last shot, and making plays out there.”  Hernandez now personally ranks him top 3 points guards in the league after Stephen Curry, and Russell Westbrook. Before, Hernandez ranked him four or five behind John Wall and Chris Paul.

As the Cleveland Cavaliers pick up the steam lately currently standing 2nd in the Eastern Conference, Leyden point guard Kyler Britten argues that to stay ahead of the Cavaliers, “Irving needs [hope] the pace of the game stays the way it is. They are a fast paced team, so that’s helping score more baskets, and make sure he gets everyone involved and he is not the only one scoring.”