Cavs players were delayed heading to Wells Fargo Center
The Cleveland Cavaliers came into Saturday night’s matchup against the Philadelphia 76ers a perfect 5-0 while the young Sixers squad sat at 0-4 on the young season. Many expected a blowout game or at least an easier victory than what was witnessed later that night: a 102-101 grind-it-out victory over the hungry Sixers.
A major part of the Cavs’ struggles were the struggles of one Kyrie Irving, who shot just 3-17 from the field en route to a season-low eight points. Irving’s season average 26 points per game before the rough outing paced the Cavs to the 5-0 start, so Cleveland had to get stops and find other options to score. However, a big part of Irving’s struggles may have been the inability to get his full warm up in.
According to Dave McMenamin of ESPN, J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert, and Irving were all late arriving to the Wells Fargo Center due to a motorcade believed to be escorting Vice President Joe Biden from a Hillary Clinton rally that caused delays from Buck County.
McMenamin also adds that all three players then hopped off the bus and took an Uber to the arena, where they arrived just an hour before the game because of the delay. NBA players keep an important routine for warming up, and Irving’s pre-game shooting routine was cut in half (from 20 minutes to just nine), which clearly affected him on the court.
LeBron James, Kevin Love, and other members of the Cavs took the first bus to the arena, while Irving, Shumpert, and Smith took the second bus. That second bus was delayed.
“I’m never taking the second bus again,” said Irving as he got ready for the game.
“A lot more shots in the gym are coming pretty soon, which I’m looking forward to. You come in shooting pretty well, feeling pretty confident, feel like I’ve got a routine going, and then it kind of gets messed up.”
Irving, despite the shooting struggles, came up huge for the Cavs with three big defensive players in the last couple minutes of the game. He took a charge on Sixers’ Robert Covington’s layup attempt, pick off a cross court pass, and then forced guard Sergio Rodriguez into a turnover.
“Kyrie didn’t have it going offensively. I think with the vice president being in town, him not being able to get shots up before the game might have thrown his rhythm off a little bit,” said coach Tyronn Lue. “But making two of the biggest defensive plays, taking a charge and deflection off [Sergio] Rodriguez’s leg [was huge].”
Irving’s offense will come to him as he’s been consistent to start the season and still hold averages of 23 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 4.0 assists in 34.7 minutes per game. The Cavs will have two days off before taking on the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday night back at Quicken Loans Arena.