BOSTON (CBS) — Prior to Thursday night’s game, Kyrie Irving voiced some concern about the throwback MECCA floor the Celtics and Bucks were going to play on later that evening.
The Celtics guard was hit with some criticism for his comments, mostly because he thought it was actually the old floor the Bucks played on from 1968 to 1988. Even when he was told it was a new floor with a fresh paint job — an homage to the floor the Bucks played on 50 years ago — Irving held strong in his consternation about it being a safe playing surface.
As it turns out, the floor was no issue for Irving once the game tipped off. He played his best game in a Celtics uniform, dropping a season-high 24 points to go with seven assists in Boston’s 96-89 win at UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena.
“I know I had some thoughts about the floor before the game that I guess was turned into a big deal,” Irving said to reporters after the win. “So it was good to see their new home floor. Is that their new home floor? The MECCA.”
Told it was only a one-time celebration for Milwaukee, and the floor will be re-painted and shipped to the Bucks’ G-League team, Irving said he was happy to be part of the occasion.
“I’m glad I was part of that historic event. It was great to see the intimacy of those seats out there as well as the fans kinda being right on top of us,” he said of playing in front of the crowd of just over 11,000. “I enjoy environments like that. Prior to shootaround, I had my thoughts, but, after I did my own assessment, it was definitely a great thing to be out there on that floor.”
Irving showed off a number of fantastic moves on the vibrant floor, providing plenty of highlights that would crack the Top 10 plays of the evening. In the second quarter, he somehow spun his way through a pair of Milwaukee defenders for a beautiful layup.
In addition to his scoring, Irving also showed off his uncanny passing abilities. After meeting a double team on the baseline, Irving thread the needle to Al Horford at the top of the key, and the Boston big man drained a three to give the Celtics a nine-point advantage with 5:26 left:
But his play of the game came late in the fourth quarter, when he froze Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo for a driving floater to put the Celtics up seven:
Irving shot 10-for-18 for the night, including 2-for-4 from downtown. It was the first time this season that Irving has unleashed his arsenal of fancy offensive moves, resulting in his best game in green and Boston’s third straight win.