Scouting the Cavaliers: Kyrie Irving is the future

By Quixem Ramirez

Apr 3, 2012; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers guard Manny Harris (6) is double teamed by San Antonio Spurs center Tiago Splitter (22) and guard Manu Ginobili (20) in the first quarter at Quicken Loans Arena. Ginobili forced a jump ball. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-US PRESSWIRE

Offensive rating: Spurs – 110.5 (1st), Cavaliers – 101.3 (25th)Defensive rating: Spurs – 103.3 (11th), Cavaliers – 108.4 (26th)Pace: Spurs – 92.6 (7th), Cavaliers – 91.3 (14th)Time: 6 p.m.TV: FSSWRadio: WOAI-AM 1200, KCOR-AM 1350

Three things to watch

Kyrie Irving. I know I talked about Irving ad nauseum in my last preview for the Cavs. But, I feel compelled to mention him again (albeit in a more concise manner). He is having an absolutely incredible rookie year as he’s posting numbers not only good enough to beat his rookie competition (considerably), but compete with more established guys like Chris Paul and Steve Nash. His team isn’t talented enough to sustain prolonged playoff success but the Cavaliers definitely have a legitimate building block to build an entire team around.

Spurs bench. In their last game against the Cavaliers, the Spurs accounted for 62 points which was nearly 50 percent of the Spurs entire point total. Expect another outburst from the bench tonight considering the starters probably won’t be asked to do much other than playing in rhythm and extending the lead up until the bench takes over.

Boris Diaw. I have been on record with saying that Diaw deserves more minutes than DeJuan Blair (a given) and Matt Bonner. He isn’t as valuable to the team as say, Tiago Splitter, but off the bench he provides the Spurs with so many ancillary things that tend to go unnoticed. Such as his tendency to be the guy passing to the guy who gets the assist (aka the “hockey assist”). His defense, which is already significantly better than Blair and compares favorably, at the very least, to, yes, Bonner’s defense. His assists are abnormally low for a passer of his caliber (2.2 per game) but that doesn’t mean he isn’t setting his teammates up with good looks. He is. He’s just not getting credit which is a shame. Plus, in recent games, Diaw has been notably more aggressive in attacking the lane and shooting from the perimeter. If he’s scoring with that kind of efficiency — as his 63.6 true shooting percentage indicates — I see no reason not to feel comfortable with playing him 20-plus minutes a night in the playoffs.

Final verdict. Spurs by 15. In all honesty, I might be on the low side with this prediction. That is crazy.