By Matthew Geagan, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — There really is no explanation for it, except that Kyrie Irving simply is not human.
The Celtics point guard is some kind of mix of a wizard, a mad scientist and a superhero. He does things with the basketball that very few can do, and those moves from his bag of tricks are often impossible to stop. Irving’s magic was on full display on Monday night against the Mavericks in Dallas, leading the way with 47 points as the Celtics once again erased another seemingly insurmountable deficit to snag their 16th straight victory.
Brad Stevens only had one word for Irving’s performance: Unbelievable. Jayson Tatum said it was like watching a video game. Whatever it was, it was incredible, even if it came against a three-win team.
Boston’s masked hero shot a ridiculous 16-for-22 on the night, hitting five of his seven bids from downtown and 10-of-11 from the charity stripe. He had 18 points by the end of the first quarter, and hit his first nine shots of the game. Anything he put up went in. It was just plain silly at points.
Going back to Saturday’s win over in Atlanta, Irving hit 15 straight shots. His first miss on Monday night was a running heave as the buzzer sounded at the end of the first half.
But he cooked up his best stretch for crunch time, as the greats often do. Irving checked in with 9:19 left in the fourth quarter and the Celtics facing an 11-point hole. They whittled that deficit to just one after Irving poured in five points in a 27 second span, draining a three off a Marcus Smart offensive rebound before pulling down a defensive board of his own and racing down the floor for a beautiful layup. He dribbled through a pair of Mavericks before shaking Yogi Farrell out of his shoes under the basket to make it a 92-91 Mavericks lead with 2:31 left. The ease in which he gets to the hoop most times is implausible, from his ball handling to his footwork.
Irving’s feed to rookie Jayson Tatum on an alley-oop, his sixth and final assist of the night, tied things at 96-96. A minute later the two teams were going to overtime, giving Irving an extra five minutes to shine.
The wizardry continued as Irving poured in 10 more points. The Mavericks owned a four-point lead until Irving scored six straight for the Celtics in a 56-second stretch, including a stepback with 2:03 left to tie things at 102-102. A Jaylen Brown bucket ended Irving’s run to put Boston up by two before the bouncy ball genius once again posted up Farrell and spun around the second-year guard for an easy deuce. A pair of freebies ended his night, giving him 17 points over the final 12:50 of the contest. That matched the entire output by the Mavericks over that stretch.
Irving would only say that he was called upon to get it done on Monday, and he answered that call. It looked like he was a man among boys, an uncle toying with his nephews on the black top. He wouldn’t go as far to admit that, but he’s certainly having fun in this new setting with a team of his own.
“It’s just fun basketball,” said Irving. “It’s like being in the park and it’s 7-on-7 and the game is to eight, and someone else calls win by two, and you call it straight-up. That’s when the defense starts to crank up and you see some unbelievable plays.
“I don’t want to say the NBA is like playing at the park, but for me, I kind of just see it as that fun basketball,” he said.
Say what you want about his mind off of the court, where his flat-earth theories and Tom Brady-like diet make him an easy target. But there’s no denying that what he does on the court is special, and most times, downright magical.