Christmas will come early for the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday night when point guard Kyrie Irving is expected to return to action.
Irving is the team’s biggest star and best player, and the Cavaliers have struggled mightily while he has been out.
Now I’m not saying that the Cavaliers will suddenly turn into winners when Irving returns, because that is not going to happen. The team should, though, at least win a few more games and be close in a lot more games with Irving back in the line-up.
If you want to see how important Irving is to the Cavaliers, consider that although Irving has only played in 10 of the team’s 20 games, he has the fourth-highest point total (229) and the third-highest number of assists (56) on the team.
Also, his scoring average of 22.9 points per game is the highest on the team, and his 5.6 assists per game is also the highest on the team.
Irving also has the second-highest shooting percentage on the team, with 46 percent (second only to Anderson Varejao, who is playing like an All-Star) and the second-highest three-point shooting percentage on the team with 39 percent (second only to, shockingly enough, Omri Casspi).
Back-up point guards Jeremy Pargo and Donald Sloan have played well at times while Irving has been out, and Pargo has looked great at times. Pargo and Sloan are back-up guards for a reason, though, and the Cavaliers are much better having those two come off the bench to give Irving a rest.
While Irving has been out, the Cavaliers have lost several games because they could not close teams out and they could not get quality shots late in the fourth quarter. The Cavaliers have also been hurt by the fact that they have not gotten enough dribble penetration in several games.
Irving’s return will help in both of these areas.
First of all, Irving is great in the fourth quarter. He wants to have the ball in crunch time, and he has already made several big shots late in games in his young career. Irving is also great at getting to the rim, especially in the fourth quarter. He is going to score on a lot of his drives, but he also is going to dish the ball off to cutters like Varejao for easy buckets.
The Cavaliers still have several problems facing the team, and one problem on Tuesday will be the fact that they will be playing Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers. The Tuesday game will be tough and I won’t say the Cavaliers will win just because Irving will be back.
Irving’s return should at least, though, give the team a spark and should give fans some hope.