Kyrie Irving struggled to deal with the boos of TD Garden at 25 percent capacity. He had no problems with the full house in Game 4.
Irving bounced back from his poor showing with 39 points on 11-24 shooting as the Brooklyn Nets stormed past the Boston Celtics in Game 4 to take a 3-1 series lead back to Brooklyn. Kevin Durant led the Nets with 42 points, but it was Irving’s performance which stole the spotlight. The Celtics were down Kemba Walker and Robert Williams in the game but held their own with a 34-33 lead after the first quarter. From then on, it was all Brooklyn.
The Nets, behind Irving and Durant, put up 40 and 39 in the next two quarters to coast to a win. The performance was especially important for Irving, given his history with the Celtics and his volatile nature early this season.
The point guard firmly established himself as a big-time scorer and superstar in Brooklyn’s lineup. His 6-12 clip for the perimeter and 11 rebounds signals good things for the Nets, who will count on Irving’s ability to heat up as the playoffs go on.
Head coach Steve Nash will be pleased at how the Nets stars have functioned with each other in the offense despite limited playing time during the regular season. Irving was seemingly the odd man out when it came to leading the unit, having to settle in as third scoring option for most of the series before Game 4.
With James Harden acting as the lead guard for much of the series, Irving had a lot of isolation attempts and took contested jump shots in attempt to break out of a funk in Game 3. He was aggressive early in Sunday’s win, taking seven of his 11 free throw attempts in the first quarter. The Celtics had to respect his aggressiveness, leading to high percentage looks for the rest of the game for Irving and the Nets.
This game was important for Brooklyn to level the series, but it was more necessary for Irving to respond to a challenge and show he could not only score in a star-dominated setting, but carry an offense.
With Irving’s explosive game, the Nets are rounding into form earlier than many expected. That’s a bad sign for the rest of the playoff teams.