Daily MVP Film Breakdown: Kyrie Irving Rips Memphis Apart

Kyrie Irving is a bad man, and the Grizzlies are just plain bad right now as evidenced by Uncle Drew’s 38 point, 11 assist performance in a Celtics win on Friday.

Kyrie had a dramatic week as the Celtics lost three straight, he called out his young teammates, apologized to his young teammates, apologized to LeBron for the errors of his youth, and publicized that information for some reason. Then he made it all ok with 28 points and 18 assists in a win over the Raptors. Irving followed it up with pure dominance against a stumbling Memphis team.

Marc Gasol and Mike Conley met with Grizzlies owner Robert Pera concerning the future of the franchise that has now lost ten of their last eleven games. It seems unlikely that he directed them to get torched by Kyrie Irving, but they did that anyway.

Out of the gate Irving focused on facilitating, and he spoonfed Marcus Smart clean looks from deep. Smart has only hit 31% from deep in his career, but he’s up to 37% this season. Smart is one of those guys who can get hot and confident from beyond the arc, and Irving made sure that happened.

Kyrie exposed Marc Gasol repeatedly in this game, especially early on in the pick and roll. Kyrie only had 10 points in the first half, but that’s because he was busy putting on a clinic on how to destroy the hedge defense. He made a former Defensive Player of the Year look silly twice in the first half, beating him and drawing the entire defense in before kicking out for three.

Even when Gasol and the rest of the Grizzlies executed the hedge well, Irving still found a way to beat it by passing the ball. That way came in the form of Al Horford, whose ability to shoot and post up makes him a nightmare to defend in the pick and pop.

Irving is just as good at moving without the ball as he is at dissecting the defense in the pick and roll. On both of these cuts he catches moving away from the basket, drives to the hoop, and finishes through a foul.

His diabolical movement off the ball also gets him some easy three pointers. It’s much easier when the big man guarding the screener commits to stopping the drive, leaving the arc wide open as long as the pick works.

The defense did Kyrie a lot of favors in this game, from hedging poorly all the way to just not forgetting to guard him in barely transition and giving him easy fouls. Kyrie is crafty, but the Grizzlies made it pretty easy for him to put on a show.

Irving is one of those guys who can beat the entire defense if he gets going, whether he has to beat three defenders or five. Uncle Drew has all the moves at every speed, and the faster he goes the more off balance all of his opponents are.

Back to Marc Gasol for a minute. His defense was pretty yucky in this game, especially down the stretch. Kyrie Irving is crazy good, but Gasol is showing the lateral quickness of a wounded Grizzly bear with none of the adrenaline-fueled intensity or defensive instincts.

So yeah, the Grizzlies are a mess right now. An unconscious Kyrie Irving took full advantage, and his game clinching bucket was a perfect metaphor for a night where Uncle Drew had his defenders running into each other all night.

Daily previews of matchups to watch around the league, and film breakdowns of the best performance from the night before. Twitter @RealTomPetrini, Spurs interviews and analysis @projectspurs.

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