NBA Finals Matchup: Kyrie Irving vs. Stephen Curry
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Kyrie Irving, PG, Cleveland Cavaliers
Postseason Stats: 24.3ppg, 2.5rpg, 5.1apg, 48 FG%, 45.6 3P%, 1.5stls, .6 blks, 2.1tos
Strengths: Good ole Uncle Drew with the sick nasty handles. Irving takes full advantage of his crossover and ability to break ankles, something that not many point guards in the league can hang with. He can either create space for a jumper or blow past you to the hoop. Irving has also been stroking the ball from deep this postseason. If Irving is feeling it from all over, he’ll be a constant nuisance. One of the biggest improvements late in the season has been Irving’s play with the ball, he hasn’t looked to over hold the ball, he’s making the right passes and letting the ball move. Defensively, Irving can create fast break opportunities for Cleveland using his quick hands to pick pockets.
Weaknesses: Defense, Irving has the ability to cause turnovers, but often lacks the effort to lockdown his opponent. As well, shooting at times can turn into an issue for Irving, as seen against Toronto in Game 3 when he shot a horrid 3 for 19. When Irving is cold his approach to the game doesn’t seem to change, he just takes more shots. Irving at times can also force his shot, when this happens ball movement gets thrown out the window.
*Photo via Getty Images
Stephen Curry, PG, Golden State Warriors
Postseason Stats: 26.7ppg, 5.9rpg, 6.1apg, 45.8 FG%, 40.7 3P%, 1.8stls, 4.1TOs
Strengths: The reigning two-time MVP has lots of tricks that separate his game from his opponents. The first being how quickly he can get a shot off, Curry has already made a name for himself and his ability to get a shot up in quick fashion with or without space. Another strength is his handles, Curry has made top stars around the league look silly with how he handles the ball. (Sorry Chris Paul, it happens) Curry’s handles allow for him to shake his defender and with his already quick release time, once he shakes you, he’s already beat you. Curry may not be the world’s best defender, but his reach and quick hands do result in several steals a game. And a team like the Warriors thrives off turnovers and Curry is one player who is very capable of helping that department. Curry is known for his shooting stroke, but his high “Off the Glass” layups and floaters are no joke. Many forget that to start off the year, he was in the top percentile of field goal percentage in the paint.
Weaknesses: Offensively it is hard to neutralize Curry completely; getting into him and being physical seems to be the most successful way to slow him down. Curry struggles when he’s constantly having physical contact with others. His major liabilities come on the defensive end, Curry isn’t very quick so when going against athletic guards he struggles. Along with this, at times Curry can get rather careless with the basketball.
Advantage: This may come as no surprise, but the advantage of this matchup goes to Stephen Curry. Curry may struggle at times defensively on Irving, but Curry is likely to wear out Irving on the other end. With Irving being a lackluster defender, Curry will look to put him on skates majority of the series and without help, or a star performance by Irving the MVP looks on paper to have a huge series.