There's a clear set of assumptions for what a last-second game-winning shot looks like. Typically, a player holds the ball, starts moving with five or eight seconds left on the clock, and hoists up a jumper over a defender. While many studies suggest that it makes more sense to run a real play on the final possession, or that it's worth looking for anything other than a long 2-point shot, this is the way of the NBA world. There are too many past moments of glory to convince most people otherwise.
When a player finishes a game in another fashion, it's worth notice. And so we must now praise Kyrie Irving, who Wednesday night led the Cleveland Cavaliers to victory over the Denver Nuggets with the rarest of game-winners. With 15 seconds left, the Cavs opted not to call timeout, instead giving Irving the chance to take Arron Afflalo full-court with the chance to create a good look open space. He never stopped, going right to the hoop for the go-ahead lay-up with four seconds left.
The Nuggets couldn't convert at the other end, and so Irving's great play cinched the win.
What's perhaps most impressive about this play is that it wasn't just a matter of Irving blowing by Afflalo. It's a tough drive, with physical defense from a top-notch defender and an off-balance finish at the rim. It's the play of a man, not a 19-year-old kid who was supposed to struggle in a lockout-shortened rookie season. Let this be the clearest sign yet that Irving is a star.
(Video via EOB)