Kyrie Irving finally had his breakout postseason performance Wednesday night for the Celtics, dominating their 99-91 Game 2 win against the visiting Indiana Pacers to the tune of 37 points, 6 rebounds and 7 assists in 40 minutes.
Irving said he felt “peaceful” after delivering for the Boston crowd on the playoff stage.
Jayson Tatum added 26 points for the C’s, who took a commanding 2-0 series lead.
“It’s pretty peaceful,” Irving said of having his first memorable playoff performance while playing for the Celtics. “I’m just happy to be able to be part of a lineage of great players that have put on some unbelievable performances here in the TD, as well as in the old Garden.
“But it felt good to be here in this position, playing in this arena. It’s just been a long journey having those two knee surgeries and watching the team last year. And finally getting a chance to lace them up for the Boston Celtics in the NBA playoffs? There’s nothing like it.”
Irving’s mere presence on the court, and the threat of him taking over as he has so many times before in his career in precisely those types of moments — including a game-winning layup against these very same Pacers here late in the regular season — was enough to send Indiana’s defense scrambling, and his teammates were happy to take advantage of it.
“Kyrie was incredible in coming back, and when he gets on a run like that, he’s going to draw even more attention than he already draws, which is as much as anybody draws in the league,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. “And so, in the last couple minutes of the game, he just made the right play. I was really encouraged by the way we shared the ball, and just made the right play. And then Kyrie was special.”