Kyrie Irving carried his team in what was one of the best postseason performances Tuesday night.
After the Cleveland Cavaliers‘ historic blowout against the Boston Celtics in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals, the Cavaliers (and everyone else) were prepared for a sweep. But things changed in Games 3 when the Celtics started to gain momentum and were able pull of a win in the absence Isaiah Thomas (right hip strain). In fact, they looked a lot better without their star player. The Celtics played like a completely different team and easily shifted the narrative of the series.
That same energy transferred to Game 4, as the Celtics limited the Cavs’ scoring to a striking 19 points in the first quarter. Things were only expected to get worse for the Cavs when LeBron James was benched halfway (6:46 left) through the second quarter because he accumulated his fourth foul.
WTH is this? @KingJames has 4 fouls already, with 6 min left in the half? Somebody explain to me what the HELL is happen? An Investigation??
— Stephen A Smith (@stephenasmith) May 24, 2017
However, Kyrie Irving put on his superhero cape and was able to save the day for his team. As if his clutch three-pointer contested by Steph Curry in Game 7 of last year’s NBA Finals was not enough for everyone to witness his “Mamba Mentality”, his performance on Tuesday night cemented that he is, in fact, one of the best finishers in the game.
His impressive handles. His unbelievable twists and turns. Fans, including myself, wonder, “How did that shot go in?”. Irving’s impeccable skill in making a basket from any angle looked effortless. With skills like that, Irving was able to score a playoff-high of 42 points in just 41 minutes. Half of those points came from the third quarter alone as Irving was on an unyielding drive of being 9-10 in shooting.
With 42 points, Irving broke his own record for the most points my a LeBron James teammate. Irving helped the Cavaliers end their night with a shooting percentage of 59.5, which ties their franchise record for postseason shooting.
Irving’s hot streak seemed to be coming to an end when he landed on his ankle pretty badly. But he knew that he wasn’t going to simply give up on the game. In a press conference after the game, Irving said:
“I’ve twisted my ankle so many times on plays like that,” Irving said. “You have two choices, you can sit there and wallow in the sorrow of you twisting your ankle or capture the moment. It’s the magnitude of the moment and what’s at stake. And I wasn’t coming out for any margin; I wasn’t coming out. I knew how much we needed this game, and I knew how much my teammates needed me, and the importance of me leading this guys, as well as Bron, so….”
With that attitude, it’s clear that Irving approaches the game with a killer instinct.