Kyrie Irving is the real deal.
Critics of the star point guard have bloviated for a long time that Irving’s a one-trick pony who only is interested in getting his on the offensive end.
Well, we hope those people tuned in to the C’s 108-94 victory over the San Antonio Spurs on Monday night.
First things first, yes Irving is a talented scorer. One of the most talented in the NBA, and that’s not debatable. He is a talented ball handler who is one of the best finishers in the game. Irving also has the ability to score from all three levels, and when you need a big shot, you want him to have the ball in his hands.
But there is so much more to Irving’s game than putting the ball through the hole, and the electric guard showed he’s the entire package Monday night. Sure he scored 24 points on an efficient 10-for-16 from the floor. It was the star’s fifth straight 20-plus point performance, all of which have been Celtics’ wins.
When Irving wasn’t crossing up defenders and sinking mid-range jumpers, though, he was busy taking over the game with his court vision. The 25-year-old’s reputation as a selfish player has been taking a hit so far this season, and his slick passing Monday further buried that narrative.
Irving collected six assists Monday, and he made countless other unselfish passes that got Boston quality looks at the hoop.
Here’s a slick pass from Irving to Daniel Theis.
And a lob to Al Horford.
Don’t forget this smooth feed to Jaylen Brown.
He also helped create easy baskets with his defense, as the C’s got fastbreak baskets off multiple defensive plays from Irving, including three steals and a block.
During his years with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Irving either was surrounded by a lackluster supporting cast, or was used as a bailout option for LeBron James late in the shot clock. The idea of “KyMe,” a selfish player who only was looking to score and boost his own numbers was never fair to the Duke product.
He never had the offense run through him while playing alongside James, and now that Brad Stevens has given him the keys to the car, he’s showing just how much of an all-around star he is when given the right opportunity.
Here are more notes from Celtics-Spurs:
— After scoring 15 points in his past two games, Jaylen Brown responded by scoring 18 points on 6-for-11 shooting.
— Monday night was the Celtics’ first win over the Spurs since March 31, 2011.
— Boston was +25 with Irving on the floor, and -11 with him on the bench.
— The C’s won their 42nd straight game when holding a team under 99 points.
Thumbnail photo via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images