Kyrie Irving dropped 40 points in spectacular fashion to keep the Cavaliers alive in the 2017 NBA Finals, and he was asked after the game why Cleveland seems to perform so well with their backs against the wall.
I don't know. I don't know. I wish I had a true answer for that, but every game is do or die, and we understand that. We're ready to live in it. And it was great to see Kyle as well as Deron as well as T-Thomp just throw themselves in tonight's game and understand the importance of it. This is The Finals, man. A minute here, four minutes here, a rebound here, maybe a tech or two here, it matters. They brought it tonight. I'm super proud of those guys, of all my teammates, but more or less those guys coming in and giving us energy, and as well as R.J. coming in and playing huge. And then everybody just collectively coming together. So it was good.
Irving is right in the sense that everybody on the Cavaliers finally came together and played a good game in unison. Tristan Thompson finally woke up with 10 boards and five assists, J.R. Smith has ventured back into the realm of the playable and Richard Jefferson gave the Cavaliers some unbelievably tough minutes despite a modest box score.
Irving himself has reserved his best for closeout games as well, this via Dan Devine of Yahoo.
In Game 5 last year, he dropped 41 points on 70 percent shooting from the field. Tonight, the magic continued.
Kyrie Irving becomes just the 8th player in NBA history (dating back to 1963) with multiple 40-point games in the NBA Finals pic.twitter.com/xkUeUmj8FJ— Carter Rodríguez (@Carter_Shade) June 10, 2017
Irving didn’t get hugely different shots than he did in Games 1 and 2. His previously dormant three-point shot returned and he went 7-12 from distance in this one on some difficult shots. That’s the value of Irving. The Warriors are so good defensively that they don’t allow a steady diet of good looks. You have to make difficult shots if you want to beat this team, and Irving is probably in the 100th percentile for such looks.
Irving tailed off after his 41-point outburst in Games 6 and 7 after turning his ankle. The Cavaliers, if they want to somehow make history again, will need this version of Irving for three more games. It’s unlikely, but if anybody has proven up to the challenge, it’s been Irving and the rest of his Cavaliers compadres.