Kyrie, James Combine for 76-points, Take 3-1 Series Lead
With all the attention surrounding LeBron James as he continues to chase greatness while pushing his Cavs towards yet another Finals berth, a certain other star Cavaliers player has been pushed aside, consequently fading into the background.
On a night in which LeBron James struggled with early foul trouble, Kyrie Irving was not ready to head back to Boston with the series tied at 2-2. Down ten heading into the second half, Irving took off, finishing the game with a career playoff-high 42-points. James added 34 of his own points while Kevin Love had a 17-point and 17-rebound night as the Cavs stormed back to route the Celtics by a score of 112-99, pushing the Celtics to the brink of elimination.
The series is now at 3-1, and ‘Uncle Drew’ became the difference maker. Despite rolling his ankle in the third quarter, Irving stayed on the floor, scoring 19-points in just under five minutes as the Cavs had a plus-17 point advantage in the third frame.
“No message,” Coach Ty Lue said on what he told his team in the locker room as the discombobulated Cavs entered halftime. “Just come out, be aggressive, in attack mode like he has been over the last four or five months. Nothing has changed.”
This was by no means a coming out part of sorts for Irving either.
With LeBron playing at an all-time great level, it’s easy to forget about the pieces around him when really, the Cavaliers could have never won a championship or ever been this good without Kyrie Irving. Basketball is dominated by great players but it still remains a team sport. Irving continues to prove his worth, showing that he is a special player in his own right. A fierce penetrator with flashy handles and a killer instinct, Irving is that impact player that has the ability to take over a game in the blink of an eye.
Ever since his days in Duke, the great Coach K told him what a special player Irving has the potential to become.
According to Richard Jefferson, the lethargy seen from James in Game 3 and 4 can be attributed to a team bug. It takes a superstar player to take over when the great LeBron James is not playing at 100-percent and to push his team towards a victory, a comeback victory at that. That is what Irving is to this team.
“Kyrie stepped up big and [did] not let the game get out of control going into the second half,” Said James following the Game 4 win. “That kid always rises to the occasion. The bigger the stage, the bigger he plays. And he knew with me going out that he had to step up his offensive power, even with the pesky Avery Bradley up on him. The kid’s special. I’ve been saying that since I came here. And he showed it again tonight why he’s special.”
With the series now shifting back to Boston, it will be up to the Celtics to find a way to push the series at least one more game by protecting their home floor.
“We owe our fans a better performance, and we know that, and we’re going to play hard.” Bradley said after the disappointing game 4 loss. “You’re going to see a team playing hard, very hard, the entire game.”
Playing without their start Isaiah Thomas, the Celtics will return to the place which hosted one of the most lopsided blowouts in playoff history. If James does in fact come in to the game back at full health, and Irving builds on his Game 4 performance, there may not be much that the Celtics can do other than just play hard and let Jesus take the wheel.