In the waning minutes with the game in the balance recently, Kyrie Irving hasn’t settled for a jumper or a 3-pointer. Instead, it has been full-steam ahead to the basket for the Celtics star guard.
Like he did in last Friday’s win over the Indiana Pacers when Irving drove through the lane and scored with 0.5 seconds left, Irving came through with another clutch drive to help lift the Celtics to a 110-105 win over the Miami Heat Monday night at TD Garden.
After a missed trey from Dion Waiters that would have pulled the Heat even after they trailed by 23 in the first half, Irving raced up the court looking to make a play. Despite connecting on 5-of-11 triples already, including hitting his first four shots from long range and finishing with a team-high 25 points, Irving didn’t settle for a shot from beyond the arc. Instead, he charged right at former Celtic Kelly Olynyk, absorbed the contact in the lane and floated up a shot that went in before hitting the ensuing free throw to push the lead to 106-100 with 1:25 remaining.
That much needed, traditional 3-point play from Irving kept the Heat at bay at a critical juncture. It was also a contrast to what had worked for the Celtics all night as the C’s hit 17-of-40 (42.5 percent) shots from deep, but had cooled off in the fourth quarter, connecting on only 2-of-10 attempts.
“It was a big play, obviously, a huge play when (the lead) goes from three to six (points) like that,” said Celtics coach Brad Stevens. “He’s one of the best scorers in the league when he puts on those jets in transition, he’s hard to keep from where he wants to go.”
While Stevens’ admiration of the play continued, he wasn’t going to read too much into the C’s going to the basket with the game on the line instead of settling for a 3-pointer due to Irving’s unique talent.
“I’m not sure everybody’s got his jets,” Stevens said. “So, I don’t think it’s something everybody should try at home. A lot of guys in the NBA shouldn’t try it either.”
The Celtics did make some history with the 3-point shot though. Marcus Morris’ trifecta from the corner near the end of the third quarter gave Boston the franchise record for made 3-pointers in a season with 986. The game also provided the 18th time this season that the C’s have hit 15 or more 3’s in a contest, also a franchise record.