The playoffs are a completely different beast, however. High-leverage NBA games with a championship on the line come down to the final moments, and as Carter said, the most important skill in those clutch situations is the ability to go get a bucket. When the defense closes in around you, can you shut out the noise, take your man, and score?
Irving can. He’s one of the best in the world, as his Game 7 heroics in 2016 will attest. All of those hesitation moves that frustrate you for 82 games devastate defenders once that playoff intensity hits and teams have scouted all your favorite plays. You have to have someone who will go to the rim with no concern for the consequences, and that’s Irving’s specialty.
Being able to make the right play like LeBron is important in the postseason, too, but someone has to be on the receiving end of that pass from the King — someone with ice in his veins. (Someone who’s not named Kyle Korver, if all else is equal.)
Irving is the perfect player to take advantage of a defense paying too much attention to LeBron. And if we’re being honest, Uncle Drew’s love for the most pressure-packed situations is vital to the Cavs, as it makes up for LeBron’s passivity in the clutch.
Yet those opportunities for Irving to shine come few and far between. There are just so many more regular season games that don’t matter than there are postseason contests with everything on the line. Balanced on a scale with equal weight, Irving’s flaws exceed his contributions.
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