LeBron James led both teams in points (29.7), rebounds (11.7), assists (8.9), steals (2.6) and blocks (2.3) in the just-concluded NBA Finals. However, popular analyst Skip Bayless opines that Kyrie Irving, who made a clutch three with 53 seconds left in Game 7, deserved to win the Finals MVP award.
Kyrie Irving made the clutch shots
“I don’t disagree that James was the best player during the course of 7 games. He stuffed the stat sheet. (However), he also stuffed the turnover stat sheet. (He) tied the all-time record for most turnovers (in the Finals). I thought Kyrie was more valuable and should have won Finals MVP,” Bayless said on ESPN First Take Monday morning.
Bayless felt that Irving made the shots “that mattered” in Cleveland’s championship run which called for the Cavs to become the first team in history to bounce back from a 3-1 deficit.
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“In Game 5, Kyrie scored 12 points in the fourth quarter. In Game 6, Kyrie set the tone with 20 points in the first half. LeBron basically followed Kyrie’s lead in Game 6 as the Cavs squared the series.
Bayles continued: “Again in Game 7, Warriors were up 7 points at halftime and Kyrie led the charge by scoring 17 points in the second half. With 4:29 left in the game, both teams missed 6 consecutive shots. LeBron went 0/4 during that period. And then, with 53 seconds left, Kyrie hit the shot heard around the world. He launched a step back, deep 3, in the face of Steph (Curry).”
Kyrie Irving averaged 27.1 points, 3.9 assists and 2.1 steals during the 7-game series.
Kyrie Irving outplays Stephen Curry
According to Bayless, Irving deserves more appreciation for outplaying reigning MVP Stephen Curry on both ends of the floor. “People forget that Kyrie also played great defense on Steph all through the series. He was all over Steph, he was running around the MVP. He basically took Steph out of the game and took over,” added Bayless.
Curry averaged 22.6 points, 4.9 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 0.9 steals during the series. Shockingly, Curry had only 3 assists combined in Games 6 and 7 – a statistic that is glaring for a point guard.
Bayles concluded that Kyrie was robbed of the limelight due to James’ overall impact. “Kyrie closed that deal with an all-time great Game 7 shot. I feel sorry for him because he’s not getting enough credit. If LeBron had made that clutch shot, we’d be talking about it a lot more.”