Kyrie Irving was nothing short of fantastic in his NBA playoff debut.
The Cleveland Cavaliers point guard dropped 30 points on the Boston Celtics on Sunday, making dazzling shot after dazzling shot as the Cavs took Game 1 of the first-round playoffs series 113-100.
Like we said, dazzling.
Yet those types of highlight-reel shots won’t be what Celtics coach Brad Stevens focuses on as he prepares for Game 2.
“Kyrie, I thought we defended really well on some shots that he just hit,” Stevens told reporters after the game. “I said this before the game: The ones that you look back on when you?re coaching are not the ones where they go Superman on you. It?s the ones where you give them a run-out because you turn the ball over, or you over-dribble and you take a bad shot, and then they?re on the break going the other way. Those are the ones that kill you. The offensive rebounds kill you. The superhuman shots do not.”
Celtics point guard Isaiah Thomas had an up-close-and-personal view of one of said superhuman shots. Thomas appeared to have Irving bottled up in the corner on one second-quarter possession, even causing the Cavs guard to momentarily lose his dribble with the shot clock winding down.
But that brief slip-up afforded Irving, who nailed five of his nine 3-point attempts, just enough space to turn around and loft a three over the outstretched arms of his 5-foot-9 defender.
?First off, he?s a talented basketball player,” said Thomas, who paced the Celtics with 22 points and 10 assists in the loss. “He?s one of the guys that takes tough shots and makes tough shots. There?s times we were right in his face, end of the shot clock, and then he buries a three. That?s just his game. We?ve got to somehow try to take those away from him and make him into a playmaker and not so much of a scorer. He’s a hell of a player, and we?ve got to slow him down to win this series.”
?It?s frustrating, but Coach always says, ?On to the next play.? No matter if it?s good or bad, we?ve got to focus on the next play. It sucks, because you play good defense for 23 seconds out of the shot clock, and then they make a hell of a shot. But that?s what great players do, and we?ve got to move on to the next play.”
Game 2 is set for Tuesday in Cleveland.
Thumbnail photo via David Richard/USA TODAY Sports Images