It's Friday afternoon, and I cannot think of a better way to head into the weekend than just sitting back with a cold one and watching the rest of the internet react to how incredible Kyrie Irving was last night. It was a transcendent performance from the 22-year-old against the defending champions. A performance for the ages.
How good was it? Even Bill Simmons is apparently a fan now:
There IS something special here, as we witnessed during his epic destruction of San Antonio last night. I always thought Kevin Johnson had the best first step of any point guard I'd ever seen; he had a downhill dribble, if that makes sense. Opponents were petrified of him. They would start backpedaling even before he made a move. That's how the poor Spurs looked last night. They were just moving backward, almost like a defensive line getting pounded. Throw in his crazy finishes and his Curry-like 3s, and ... I mean, JESUS.
SB Nation's own Mike Prada graded all of his clutch shots from last night:
The buzzer beater. It's true Irving has a sliver of daylight because Leonard briefly addresses the threat of James Jones going to the corner. That was probably a mistake by Leonard, but he closes out perfectly to make up for it. This is what Irving sees when he releases.
If you're into podcasts, The Starters had a new one out this morning during which they praised Kyrie extensively.
SI's Rob Mahoney wrote that, when Kyrie has it going, he really is unstoppable:
At various points in the game, Irving was defended by Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, Tony Parker and Marco Belinelli. None among them was in any position to stop him. Even when the lankier Green or Leonard appeared to have Irving pressured out beyond the three-point line as the shot clock dwindled, a quick crossover turned the dynamic completely. Irving was never more than a move or two away from creating the space he needed, be it a slim opening between the arms of multiple help defenders or the airspace between his jumper and a hard close-out.
Here's another look at his game-tying three from a cool angle:
Amazing angle of the game tying three by Kyrie! https://t.co/ojHPNC8nUs— CLEsportsTalk.net (@CLEsportsTalk) March 13, 2015
I love that they immediately went into their choreographed handshake.
ESPN Stats & Info put all of the amazing numbers in context:
His 57 were the most scored in a game against a defending champion since Wilt Chamberlain scored 62 against the Celtics during the 1961-62 season.
And another interesting stat:
Kyrie hit TOUGH looks. Per SportVU, he shot better on contested looks (17/27; 63.0%) than uncontested (3/5; 60%) pic.twitter.com/ba5XUm33kL— NBA.com/Stats (@nbastats) March 13, 2015
Where does all of this leave Kevin Love? SB Nation's Tom Ziller discussed:
Does he want to be a 16-10 starter for a championship contender, deferring to James and Kyrie Irving in perpetuity and hoping his coach can find space for him late in games or in the playoffs? Or would he rather be the Kevin Love of Minnesota, but on a larger stage? Because if that's what he wants -- in Los Angeles, in Boston, in several notable cities -- he can have it. He can opt out in June, sign a huge contract in July and get back to 25-15 status under bright lights, all at the cost of ensured victory.