I've been a pretty big apologist for Kyrie Irving, but this was the worst defensive effort I've seen from him. He consistently got stuck on screens, lost his guy getting open for threes, and was taken advantage of in mismatches. Irving has a crappy game and has a big + and the C's win. Irving has a good game and is a huge - and the C's lose. And I know it is just 2 games, but thus far Irving is making me look like a genius in all those threads when I claimed his value to wins and losses is greatly overrated on this blog. and yeah, his defense is awful and always has been. If I hadn't seen these performances for years, I'd be much more inclined to give him an injury pass, but this really is who Irving is and the fast this board comes to this realization, the better the viewing experience will be as this board won't collectively expect things to happen that just won't happen.
Given that it is the second game of the season and he is coming back from injury, I'll give him considerable leeway. He should improve throughout the rest of the year. I just wanted to point out (for all the Irving-haters) that there is an in-between ground between Kyrie-hate and Kyrie-fanaticism.
I thought the same thing about Hayward, but not to the same extent.
I also thought that the Raptors had pretty obvious potential to be a very scary team defensively. They weren't there yet, but there were possessions where they looked awesome.
Irving's best value will come playoff time when the C's offense grinds to a halt.
That said, especially early last year, I thought Irving was pretty good on defense, at least not as bad as his reputation suggested. He had a mid-season lull (somewhat expected), and then missed the end of the season.
Last night, he looked far worse than I've seen him.
I thought Irving looked much more engaged in the 4th quarter. It was against Burke, but the way he fought around screens and stayed engaged off-ball was much better.
He can be a decent defender with effort, but the effort comes and goes.
That is one of the things that I find so frustrating about him. Kyrie is clearly capable of playing good defense. He has shown us that in the past. In short spurts.
It is one thing when a guy just isn't capable of playing good defense. But it is even more annoying to me when a player is capable of that defense but is just unwilling of putting the effort in (on a consistent basis) necessary to be a good defender.
EFFORT. That should be a minimal requirement of an NBA player.
At least we know Kyrie is capable of playing good defense when it matters most. When (if?) he tries hard enough. That is something.