Kyrie Irving had his best performance against the Boston Celtics in Game 3 of the NBA Finals.

The Mavericks guard led all scorers with 35 points in the 106-99 Dallas loss that gave Boston a commanding 3-0 series lead.

On the brink of elimination, Irving admitted how special the Celtics are on both ends of the court.

“Very special to watch from afar, but also as a competitor, as a hooper, to be experiencing it at this level, it’s an incredible teacher for me,” Irving said after Mavericks practice on Thursday, per league-provided transcript. “I use it as a moment to learn how hard it is to win, especially against a great team that’s going to guard you the way that they’re guarding us.”

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The Mavericks trailed by as many as 21 in Game 3 before going on a 22-2 run to bring Dallas within one before the Celtics began to regain control.

“The frustration is natural, just because you want to make every shot when you’re in the Finals. You don’t want to miss. You don’t want to not play well,” Irving said. “You give partial credit to them but also there’s a focus and a preparation you have to have.”

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Irving was held to just 28 combined points in the two games in Boston, and he credited his former team for knowing how he plays.

“These guys on that Boston squad know my game,” Irving said. “They know it well. They’ve been able to scheme for me for the past few years.

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“Getting over this hump is something that’s been on my mind for a while, watching them, just like everyone has been watching Boston this whole entire year, be the best team in the league. We obviously knew we would have our challenges, but this is what helps us grow.”

The eight-time All-Star continued: “Going out there and competing with the best of the best, competing with Jrue (Holiday) and Jaylen (Brown) and JT (Jayson Tatum) and seeing their ability to cover up some of their mistakes or trust each other to make the right plays on the defensive end has shown me what I have to continue to work on and also learn how to think the game in a better way.”

The Celtics are one win away from clinching Banner 18 for the franchise and Irving is cherishing every moment he has on the court against Boston.

“I’m going against the best of the best,” he said. “This is what I’ve always dreamt of. Whether we win or lose, it’s the growth that I look at and how I can continue to be a better leader for my teammates.”

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Featured image via Kevin Jairaj/USA TODAY Sports Images