BOSTON — Kyrie Irving simply was stellar Friday night.
The Boston Celtics guard went off for 43 points on 18-for-26 shooting in a thrilling 123-116 overtime win over the Toronto Raptors, adding 11 assists with two rebounds and three steals.
Irving really got cooking in the fourth quarter and overtime, and it became apparent at a certain point that everyone else just needed to get out of his way. Whether it was hitting 3-pointers from the parking lot or driving to the rim and making dizzying layups, the Raptors simply did not have an answer for him.
LeBron James was among those lauding Irving’s performance, but he was far from alone. Here’s what some other Celtics had to say about the star’s big night.
Brad Stevens: “I think it’s fair to say that when he’s got it going like that, you tweak everything. You stop yourself in your tracks and you again look for spacing and look for opportunities to get him the ball with a live dribble. Even if it’s catching it on the 3-point line with a live dribble, I think those are good things. … I do everything I can to stay out of his way (when he’s playing like that).”
Marcus Morris: “I’m kind of used to it … I told him he had to have an A in English class because his English with that ball is slim to none. I’ve never seen nobody put the ball at the top of the backboard like that and get the roll.”
Gordon Hayward: “Ah man, he made some shots tonight where you’re just like, ‘Wow.’ You catch yourself being a fan. When he gets in that mode I think the whole arena knew where we were going and so did the Raptors, they just couldn’t stop him. He played tremendous tonight, we’ve been leaning a lot on him.”
Kyrie Irving: “Pretty peaceful (playing like that). You just try to make the right reads, that’s all, and take what the defense is giving you. … Other than fatigue I don’t think anything else really is on my mind, just the next play that needs to happen on both ends of the floor. Most teams run kind of the same offensive package that they go to to try things throughout the game, but I just take mental notes of what’s coming and then try to make a pre-switch or a tweak here or a screen here or something that gets somebody open. Then, of course, Brad’s over there just dilating everything. So it’s great to have that continuity.”