For the second time in six games, Michael Carter-Williams will go up against an all-star point guard. First there was Derrick Rose and now Kyrie Irving comes to town, when the Sixers host the Cleveland Cavaliers Friday night. Sandwiched in between were three meetings with all-star caliber guards John Wall and Stephen Curry.
The rookie is smart enough not to rank his opposition, but he is willing to give credit where credit is due.
“I don’t know who is No. 1, but they are all tough,” Carter-Williams said. “Coming into this league as a rookie and from watching them on TV, now playing against them is totally different. They are real tough players. They can do anything on the floor.
“I am just trying to compete each and every night no matter what. Some of the guards have had some big first halves, but I have to stay with it and stay composed. I know they are going to make some shots, but [I have to] stay composed and stay within my team.”
MCW saw Irving in the preseason, giving him a taste of the third-year guard, who currently is averaging 18 points, seven assists and more than five rebounds.
“He is a great player, clearly,” Carter-Williams said. “He is crafty with the ball, he makes his teammates better, and he can score the ball, so he is a tough challenge. I just have to trust my skills and do the best I can on defense and attack on offense.”
“The point guard can control the game at both ends of the floor,” Cavs coach Mike Brown said. “And the good ones do that because the ball is in their hands. Kyrie is on his way to doing that. Right now we are working with him to get to that point. There are things he sees he can get better at, and there are things that I see he can get better at, but he is definitely on his way there.”
The Cavaliers are off to a 2-3 start with all three losses coming on the road. The Sixers will try to snap a two-game losing streak Friday night. The Sixers and Cavs are the two youngest teams in the NBA, and both are experiencing growing pains.
“Brett Brown is a great young coach and the right guy to lead this team,” Mike Brown said. “At the end of the day they will figure things out, but everyone goes through growing pains. Can you play a certain style night-in and night-out at both ends of the floor? As a young guy, can you focus to play that way which is hard in this league every night? In time, they will be able to.”
“We know [the Sixers] want to get out and use their athleticism and try to use their athleticism defensively to speed the game up," Brown said. “That is not the way we want to play, because we don’t necessarily have the same type of team. But, consistently, both teams do want to defend.”