Kyrie Irving locks up Stephen Curry while also recording a career-first stat line


After struggling with his efficiency in his first three outings following Kevin Durant’s sprained MCL, Kyrie Irving, for the first time in his career, has logged three consecutive games with at least 30 points, five assists and five rebounds. 

It started with 30-7-7 against the Suns. Then 48-11-6 in a win over the Jazz. Finally, Irving went for 38 points, nine assists and seven rebounds against just one turnover in Brooklyn’s 120-116 victory over the Warriors on Sunday.

But I’m not here to highlight Irving’s offense. You know all about that. I’m here to highlight his defense, which, relatively speaking, has actually been quite good for quite a while now. The effort and attention to detail are evident, and the same footwork that Irving uses to dizzy defenders when he has the ball proves just as useful when he’s on the other side of the dance.

Watch here as Irving crowds Stephen Curry starting at half court, cramping the ball-screen space before putting on a defensive-slide clinic when Curry rejects the screen. It kills the whole possession, as by the time Curry gives it up, the Warriors are forced to ask Klay Thompson to create against a dwindling shot clock. No dice.

Irving took on the Curry assignment all night. He consistently picked up high and dared Curry to beat him off the dribble, and save for a couple of instances in the first half, Curry wasn’t able to do so. Watch here at the end of the third quarter. Irving again puts a lot of ball pressure on Curry and then, isolated on an island, stays disciplined as Curry tries to shimmy into some kind of separation, which he doesn’t get.

Late in the fourth, Curry again finds himself one on one against Irving. He tries to go right and can’t get an inch of separation. Irving completely interrupts his rhythm, so Curry loses his footing and travels.

The common denominator on all these plays is how persistent Irving is in… Source

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