As an NBA champion and three-time finalist, Celtics All-Star Kyrie Irving has ample experience on the sharp step that professional basketball has to offer.
And yet he was in the middle of November, five months before the finishing touches even began, his chickens lick over a regular season matchup.
For good reason: The Raptors brought their NBA best 12-3 record to Boston for a potentially – ridiculously early preview of the Eastern Conference final.
“I’m excited about that game,” Irving said before Friday’s game. “Of course one game at a time, but it’s just a race’s dream to go against the best of the best.”
As he did so many times over the years, Irving rose to one of the best games in his career with high seasons of 43 points and 1
1 assists in an exciting 123-116 overtime victory. Per Elias Sports, Irving is the first Celtic with 40 plus points and 10-plus assists since Antoine Walker 2001 and third overall. (Trivia question: What other Boston big did it? Answer below.)
Anchored by Irving’s ridiculous efficiency – the five-star star struck 18 of 26 shots with just three turns – Celtics surpassed some mid-game strikes to end the game on a 20- 9-running.
It was not really a perfection for a team that joined the NBA’s seventh worst offensive rating. But with Jayson Tatum chipping in 21 points and Gordon Hayward struck a handful of important free throws / shots down the distance, Celtics saw at least closer to the contestant who expected to be the 8-6 media critic who entered the game.
“It’s only good for us to see growth,” says Irving, a reference to last month’s 12-point loss for Raptors. “To have a good Friday evening game, go to Toronto Raptors … awesome.”