Kyrie Irving put together a “vintage” performance — as Marcus Smart described it — in the Nets’ first game following the NBA All-Star break.
Irving dropped a game-high 40 points in Brooklyn’s 121-109 win over the Boston Celtics at Barclays Center. The offensive outburst matched Irving’s season-high point total and helped the Nets win their 12th game in their last 13 outings.
The star point guard looked like a man possessed over the course of his stellar performance against his former team. James Harden — who scored 22 points Thursday night — believes Irving largely deserves the credit for helping the Nets shake off their rust after having over a week off from game action.
“He’s a different breed,” Harden said, per ESPN. “He has that killer mentality in a sense of, no matter who we play or where we’re playing, he is going to go out there and try to destroy the opponent, and that’s something that you’d want on your team at all times. That mentality is what sets him apart from a lot of guys in this league.”
Irving, on the other hand, effectively brushed off his highly productive night.
“I’m just waiting for the main stage,” Irving said. “Playing in front of millions of people and it actually mattering in terms of win or lose or go home. I’m looking forward to that, but games like this in the middle of the season against guys that you know well, that’s always a blessing.”
The Nets are starting to look like somewhat of a runaway train, which is an even scarier thought when you consider Kevin Durant hasn’t played in a month. At full strength — which now includes Blake Griffin — Brooklyn will be an incredibly tough out.