April 19, 2014

The Fine Line Between Losing with a Purpose and Just Plain Losing

Kyrie Irving is seeing plenty of extra defensive attention this season

It’s no secret that what happens in the 4th quarter often defines a basketball game.

One of the more common criticism of basketball, particularly in the NBA, is that the first 3 quarters are irrelevant and all that matters is the 4th quarter. If someone doesn’t enjoy just watching the game of basketball itself, I can see how they would feel that way. In the NBA, it seems like everyone goes on a run and no lead is safe. Winning and losing frequently comes down to late game execution.

Last season, the Cavaliers were often an exception to the rule. It seemed that the 4th quarters rarely mattered and the most important quarter was the first. Indeed, how the Cavaliers played in the 1st quarter was often the defining quality of the game. It was hard for that team to come back from early deficits and 4th quarters usually involved opponents giving the tail end of their bench some quality playing time.

But in those few games where the Cavaliers came out playing good basketball in the 1st quarter, they would often find themselves in the game in the 4th with a chance to win. These became Kyrie Irving’s moments. It was where Mr. 4th Quarter was born. As fans, we had ultimate confidence that if the bench could somehow just keep it close, within 5 points or so, that when Kyrie Irving checked back in he would find a way to win the game for Cleveland. [Read more...]