In a league that has probably never seen such an overwhelming quality of players playing at one time at the point guard position, tonight’s match-up between the Chicago Bulls and Cleveland Cavaliers presents the first battle of two of the best at the position. Outside of Chris Paul, who is unquestionably the cream of the crop in regards to the floor generals of the NBA, there might not be two better players at the position than the pair of Kyrie Irving and Derrick Rose.
In witnessing the first match-up between the two superstars, set to tip off at the United Center at 8:00 PM, we might just bare witness to the birth of the next great positional rivalry in the NBA.
In Rose, the Bulls not only have their biggest lottery ticket to any potential hope of an NBA title this season but also the thorn in their side, the splinter in their foot that is proving a much tougher feat to correct than initially anticipated. Although the prospective hopes are nothing but positive as the consensus is that Rose will gain that swagger and confidence on the floor that made him one of the can’t miss talents in the NBA, the 2-3 record that has come along with the struggles of regaining that edge hasn’t been an enjoyable ride for players and fans alike. Thus far, Rose has looked a shell of himself statistically as the 14.4 points, 4.0 assists and abysmal 32 percent from the field look less like a former superstar and more like what Kobe Bryant imagines Smush Parker provided in his seasons running alongside the Black Mamba on the Los Angeles Lakers‘ one man team.
As for the Cavaliers, the struggles of Irving thus far has been less concerning but still something that has been somewhat surprising for a player that is relied upon for any success the team achieves this season. Through seven games, the third year point guard out of Duke is shooting an uncharacteristic 39.3 percent from the field and 34.3 percent from long range, well short of his career marks 45.4 percent and 39.4 percent respectively. As well, for a player that is heaves up such a large amount of shots on a nightly basis, a mold that Irving fits perfectly with 19.3 attempts per game, the fact that he has only broken the 20-point barrier twice thus far this season is the telling stat that has defined a season marred in inconsistency and lack of efficiency. Although Irving has managed to produce to the extent of 19.9 points, 8.0 assists and 5.0 rebounds, something much closer to career averages in comparison to Rose, to ignore his struggles would be criminal.
Both Rose and Irving have all the talent in the world and the majority of the season to get things going the way fans, coaches, fellow personnel and executives alike know they are more than capable of. As two of the more explosive scorers and fiercer competitors in the NBA, the hope is that tonight’s match-up proves to be the catalyst in resurrecting the players that we know both are instead of the ones we’ve been disappointed in watching so far this season.
For true competitors, nothing quite brings out the best in them like that of facing someone of a similar makeup, a player who can challenge them mentally and rival them in raw talent. With both teams struggling and both players off to disappointing starts, the stakes of the match-up couldn’t be higher for both players. That element will add to the pressure that both will face tonight as well as also the desire both will have of lighting up the scoreboard and breaking the cycle of shortcoming that has befallen both early in the 2013-14 regular season.
For the sake of the fortunes of both teams, the hope is that the two superstars stepping onto the same floor proves to be the spark that lights a fire under both players and both teams. That said, no matter what the fortunes of either team going forward, at least for one night it will undoubtedly be a clashing of two powers that threaten to one day rule the NBA kingdom.