Like everybody else, I received the news today that Kyrie Irving is out indefinitely with a toe injury. Only i received it though text message from ESPN alerts. Then shortly after that a good friend of mine (who happens to be a huge Syracuse fan) decided to rub it in and resend the news to me via text message. So in my moment of panic I replied “This is a good thing, now Curry and Dawkins will get more playing time.”
Well Dawkins was awarded the start and boy did he show up. He went 8-14 from 3-point range and scored 28 points. Kyle Singler and Miles Plumlee were the only other players to join Dawkins in a double digit scoring performance with 17 and 14 respectively. Granted playing Bradley at home isn’t exactly the type of competition that will rattle Duke’s cage. However it’s a great sign that players are looking to step up and fill the void of Kyrie’s absence. Duke rolled in this one winning 83 to 48, and Coach K moved into sole position of 3rd place on the all time wins list.
Nolan Smith’s role has also drastically changed because of Irving’s injury. Smith was really just a 2 guard that has no problem creating a shot for himself off the dribble. Now he has the added pressure of having to create for others. Something that he had no issue with today as he dished out 10 assists. Unfortunately he failed to couple that with a solid scoring performance. He shot a putrid 0 for 8 from the field and sank a couple free throws to finish with 2 points on the night.
Clearly Nolan Smith is going to bear the biggest weight in Kyrie Irving’s absence. He now has to adapt to lead this Duke offense and find his own stroke. With some easy opponents up on the schedule he should be able to learn his new role without Duke taking a loss. I think my friend said it best tonight, “i hate your team [Kyrie's injry] barely hurts them.” I’ll take hate as a sign of respect, because many comparisons have been made between John Wall and Kyrie Irving, but everyone knows that Kentucky could not survive without John Wall. Duke however has so much talent this year that it might just make them stronger once Kyrie returns to full health.
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Written by Brian Ivory