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Kyrie Irving hits the game-winner to send Cavs past Raptors (VIDEO)

Jan 26, 2013, 10:12 PM EDT

Let’s just get this out of the way right now — that was absolutely horrible defense by the Raptors.

Kyrie Irving hit the game-winning shot from three-point distance with just 0.7 seconds remaining to give his Cavaliers the 99-98 victory in Toronto. The win was Cleveland’s third straight and fourth in its last five games.

This one had to hurt for the Raptors, considering the fact that they held a lead of 11 points a minute into the fourth quarter. At home, against a team near the bottom of the standings, these are the games that you’re supposed to close out.

But Cleveland put together a 12-0 run in about two and a half minutes to make it a contest once again, and the teams essentially went back and forth the rest of the way.

Now, about that final shot from Irving.

The Raptors have to know he’s going to be the one to take the last shot, and Alan Anderson who was (technically) defending has to be aware of the time remaining and the score of the game.

With the way that Irving calmly walked the ball up the floor, and didn’t bother attempting to get into the paint even as we reached less than three seconds remaining in the game, Anderson has to push up and guard the game-winner there. Even if Irving gets past him on the drive and no help defense arrives in time, so what? The game would be tied, and his team would still have a chance to win in the overtime session.

Instead, the fear of Irving’s penetration overcame common sense. And while Irving still had to come up big by making the shot, the way the Raptors chose to defend in that situation sure made it easy for him to get a clean look.

  1. tampajoey - Jan 26, 2013 at 10:25 PM

    Uncle Drew is straight up sick.

  2. eventhorizon04 - Jan 26, 2013 at 10:35 PM

    Nice shot by Irving.

    However, I agree with Brett. Once it became clear that the Cavaliers weren’t running a set play, or even setting a pick for Kyrie, the defender HAD to play Kyrie more aggressively rather than sagging back and giving him plenty of space.

    Know your opponent – Kyrie is the Cavaliers’ best scorer (especially with Varejao out) and a very good 3-point shooter.
    Playing him aggressively once there were under 5 seconds left would force Irving to either take a contested 3-pointer or drive to the basket to get a more open shot.
    Given how far outside the paint Irving was (several feet behind the 3 point line), there would be plenty of time for the defense to rotate if Kyrie drives, in which case Irving either takes a contested 2 point shot or passes the ball to a less talented teammates.

    A contested 3-point shot is a win for the defense since it’s a very low-percentage shot.
    A contested 2-point shot is a win for the defense since it’s still not a high percentage shot, and at worst, it ties the game.
    Irving passing the ball to a teammate after help defense arrives is a win for the defense since if you’re Toronto, you want anybody except Irving taking that shot.

    The worst outcome the defense could allow was an uncontested 3-point shot being given to the opponent’s best 3-point shooter.
    That’s the outcome the Raptors’ defense allowed.

    Again – great shot by Kyrie, but awful defense by the Raptors.

  3. kfiz14 - Jan 26, 2013 at 10:44 PM

    Pressure makes diamonds.

  4. scoregasmic - Jan 27, 2013 at 4:29 AM

    Kyrie quickly became my favorite player in the league, Uncle Drew droppin knowledge on these youngbloods

  5. mungman69 - Jan 27, 2013 at 5:30 AM

    Saw Irving play as a high school freshman and knew that he had a chance to be something special.

  6. someidiotfromouthereintheprojects - Jan 27, 2013 at 8:39 AM

    jeez, this kid hits a game-winner it feels like at least once a week! i’m afraid he’s already one of the best…

  7. wgray981 - Jan 27, 2013 at 9:59 AM

    If the Cavs get a good draft pick this year they will be a playoff teAm with Irving.

  8. spthegr8 - Jan 27, 2013 at 10:49 AM

    He just might pass cp3 next year. That was “COLD BLOODED”!!!!!

    • Kurt Helin - Jan 27, 2013 at 5:03 PM

      Whoa there, slow down. He’s amazing but don’t go overboard.

      • spthegr8 - Jan 27, 2013 at 7:55 PM

        @Kurt
        It’s really not that crazy Kurt. He has a better jumper ( including 3 ball ) and he is a better finisher @ the basket. When he gets a little better defensively and has another cpl years experience under his belt…..WATCH OUT!! . He is already on his heels! Trust me Kurt, just trust me!!

  9. latchbeam - Jan 27, 2013 at 11:47 AM

    You said “…afraid of Irving’s penetration.”

  10. latchbeam - Jan 27, 2013 at 11:48 AM

    Side note: Tristan Thompson is a beast this year!

  11. maureenbridgett - Jan 27, 2013 at 2:45 PM

    My son was on Kyrie’s team at MKA. It was exciting watching him then but this is ridiculous! He is just so good and so much fun to watch! Glad I can say I knew him when…

  12. borderline1988 - Jan 27, 2013 at 10:47 PM

    Just brutal defense by Andersen (who’s otherwise a good defender).

    I was watching that game, and it was so obvious Irving was going to shoot. There was like 3 seconds left and he still had the ball beyond the 3 point line moving slowly. Ever since he got the ball, he was dribbling casually…obviously he was planning on going for the win; otherwise, he would have attacked the basket as fast as possible.
    At that point I was literally screaming at the tv “get up in his face!!”

    I blame the coach on this as well…the one thing you should be telling your players in a situation like that is not to give up clean look at a 3.

    Raptors would ahve been 3 games out of 8th with a win. That was a heartbreaker.

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