By Matthew Geagan, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — It seems like a certainty that when the Celtics get down by double digits, they’re going to make a comeback. It’s even more of a certainty that Kyrie Irving is going to paint some kind of masterpiece in crunch time.
Call him an artist, or a wizard, or just a ridiculously talented point guard. They all apply. Irving’s artistry was once again on full display as the Celtics came back from a 12-point deficit to beat the Dallas Mavericks, 97-90, on Wednesday night.
Irving continued to cement himself as one of the game’s best closers, scoring seven of his game-high 23 points in the game’s final four minutes. He used his full array of dizzying moves to get to the basket and leave the Mavericks in his dust, netting five of those points in a 30 second span. He started the stretch with a coast-to-coast layup that he finished by spinning the ball off the bottom corner of the glass, a ridiculously absurd angle that kept outstretched Dallas big man Maxi Kleber from getting a hand on it:
He added to that four-point lead by putting the spin cycle on Wesley Matthews on Boston’s next possession, again kissing the ball off the glass while drawing the foul. Once Matthews gave him an open look at the basket, there was little doubt Irving was going to get there. His three-point play gave Boston a 92-85 lead, and Irving added a floating jumper off the glass for good measure a few minutes later, giving him seven points in the final 3:45 of the game.
“Just winning time,” Irving said casually after the win. “Simple as that.”
The Celtics are now 7-3 in games they’ve trailed by double digits, and 22-4 on the season. Irving is up to 74 clutch-time points for Boston this season (two points behind his old buddy LeBron James for the league lead), shooting 62.2 percent when the game is close down the stretch. He even joked after Wednesday’s win that reporters were probably sick of hearing about his love for the clutch moment.
“It’s fun for me because you really just have to blow into your bag of tricks and prepare yourself for whatever the defense is about to throw at you,” Irving said. “There are just adjustments that get to be made in the fourth quarter that don’t get to be made in the first three quarters, so just try to take advantage of those things.”
Irving takes a blank canvas and turns it into something beautiful every night, so of course he considers the game of basketball and art form.
“It’s just a constant masterpiece that you have to paint. Sometimes it’s going to be all scribble and stuff like that, it’s OK to get out of the lines,” he said. “That’s the way I think of it sometimes or, excuse me, most of the time when I’m describing it and watching it, just watching so many different details that I need to do in order to think about the best way to get a win.”
A home win over the lowly Mavericks, who sit at 7-18 on the season, is nothing to get too excited about. But it seems like after every game we’re talking about Irving’s dazzling play, with each move to the basket more mesmerizing than the last. It’s always fun to watch, no matter who the opponent on the other end.