Kyrie Irving was a force on Christmas Day.
The All-Star point guard scored 40 points Tuesday as the Boston Celtics defeated the Philadelphia 76ers 121-114 at TD Garden. More importantly, he stepped up when it mattered most, sinking a clutch basket with 20 seconds remaining in regulation then knocking down a pair of 3-pointers in overtime.
For Skip Bayless, the performance offered an important reminder that Irving “inch-for-inch” is the “best clutch closer” in the NBA. Also, Bayless said Wednesday on FS1’s “Undisputed,” Irving’s effort showed again why the Celtics star is the antithesis of LeBron James.
Irving arrived in Boston with a reputation as a clutch performer. He delivered some big buckets in his six seasons with the Cleveland Cavaliers — none bigger than his 3-pointer in the final minute of Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors.
While Irving’s most meaningful contributions with the Celtics might not come until the playoffs roll around, his performance on Christmas Day against the Sixers certainly was impressive. The stakes were relatively high — on national TV, against an Eastern Conference rival, amid some early-season inconsistency — and Kyrie did what Kyrie typically does: He rose to the occasion in a winning effort.