With news on Friday that Kyrie Irving will miss the rest of the postseason with a fractured kneecap, we take a look at the impact that his loss will have on the Cavaliers.
Different offensive attack
The Cavaliers' offense this postseason has looked vastly different when Irving is on the floor. The Cavaliers scored nearly nine more points in the paint per 48 minutes with Irving on the floor during the playoffs, making up for the difference in 3-point shooting when Irving is off the floor. Cleveland has shot 41.5 percent on 3-pointers when Irving sits compared to 31.8 percent when he plays.
Defensively, the Cavaliers have been better this postseason when Irving sits. They allow fewer points per 100 possessions with Irving on the bench and have a better net efficiency as well.
What does this mean for LeBron?
LeBron James has taken on a much heavier scoring load with Irving on the bench this postseason, upping his scoring average by 12.5 points per 40 minutes thanks to over 8 more shot attempts per 40. LeBron's field goal percentage has actually increased slightly despite this extra volume and his 3-point shooting percentage has increased greatly from 9.3 to 30.3 percent.
LeBron's usage percentage (the percentage of team plays used by a player when he is on the floor) will probably continue without Irving the rest of the way. In Game 1, LeBron recorded the second-highest usage percentage of his postseason career and his highest in a Finals game. LeBron carrying a heavy load this postseason is no surprise as four of his six highest career postseason usage percentage games have come in 2015.
Cavs better with Irving in Game 1
The Cavs were at their best on Thursday night with Irving on the floor with LeBron and Tristan Thompson in combinations that often included Timofey Mozgov and either J.R. Smith or Iman Shumpert. The Cavs outscored the Warriors by 10 in the 34 minutes that the James-Irving-Thompson lineup shared the floor and were outscored by 18 in the 19 minutes this trio was not on the court together.