Kyrie Irving Backs Up His Words In Game 2 Masterpiece


"Because I'm here."  That was the reason Kyrie Irving offered to reporters as to why he felt his Boston Celtics would be okay once the playoffs rolled around.  This came after one of Boston's more disappointing losses in late February at the hands of a Chicago Bulls team that won just 22 games this season.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images
The Celtics had just finished allowing 126 points to Chicago, and when Irving was asked if he was worried the team's struggles may leak into the postseason, he offered a simple "no".  When pressed further, he cited his presence on the roster as the reason why.

Shop for official Boston Celtics team gear and authentic collectibles at NBAStore.comWith a statement like that, I felt Irving was putting a lot of pressure on himself.  He wasn't shy in expressing his opinion towards the NBA regular season.  Though he never officially said so, it was clear in his remarks that he feels the regular season doesn't matter.  It's fine to feel that way, but when playoff time rolls around, you better show out.

Well, last night Irving did just that, and in doing so, led the Celtics to a 2-0 series lead in their first round matchup with the Indiana Pacers.  Irving was solid in Game 1, but he was not the story coming out of that game.  Last night, Irving was the headline, with Jason Tatum a close second. 

Irving not only put in 37 points, but he did so while shooting better than 50% from the field, and 60% from three-point range.  He also chipped in six rebounds and seven assists.  Nine of his points came in the fourth quarter, but more important than those fourth quarter points was the fact that he didn't force anything late in the game.

Brad Stevens credited him with making the right plays down the stretch.  Many times teams turn to the guy with the hot hand down the stretch.  Everybody stands around the three-point line and everything turns into isolation.  That doesn't always pan out, and it can make the defense's job much easier.

That wasn't the case last night.  Irving scored just one point in the final four minutes, as he was content to play within the offense.  Hayward and Tatum each made go-ahead buckets in the final minutes as Irving looked on.  Though he may not have hit the big shot as the clock ticked down, Irving was a major reason the Celtics were even within striking distance heading into the fourth.

In a listless third quarter where the Celtics managed just 16 points, and saw a 2 point halftime lead turn into a 12 point deficit, Kyrie chipped in 10 of those 16 points, just to keep the Celtics afloat.

He was getting to the basket, knocking down threes, dribbling defenders to death, and then burying a fadeaway in their face.  He had it all working last night, much as he said he would back in February.

Now comes the real test.  The Celtics are just 5-16 on the road in the playoffs under Stevens.  They've played in eight playoff series, and failed to win a game on the road in five of them.  All Boston needs to do is win one of the next two in Indiana, and this series will end in five games. 

Let's see if Kyrie can continue to lead the way.

Follow Derek on Twitter @mcvay34

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Boston Sports Syndicate: Kyrie Irving Backs Up His Words In Game 2 Masterpiece
Kyrie Irving Backs Up His Words In Game 2 Masterpiece
Boston Sports Syndicate
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