Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens called Kyrie Irving’s performance ‘special’ after the All-Star guard poured in 37 points in the Game 2 win over the Indiana Pacers.
Wednesday night’s scores
- Indiana Pacers 91-99 Boston Celtics – Celtics lead 2-0
- Detroit Pistons 99-120 Milwaukee Bucks – Bucks lead 2-0
- Utah Jazz 98-118 Houston Rockets – Rockets lead 2-0
Irving scored a game-high 37 points (15-of-26 shooting) as the Celtics rallied in the fourth quarter to seal a 99-91 victory that earned them a 2-0 lead in the first-round playoff series.
Stevens was effusive in his praise for Irving’s performance. “Kyrie was incredible in coming back,” he said. “When he gets on a run like that, he is going to draw even more attention than he already draws, which is as much as anybody draws in the league.
“I was really encouraged by the way we shared the ball and made the right play. And then Kyrie was special.”
Pacers coach Nate McMillan reflected on the difficulty of containing Irving, who handed out seven assists to go along with his 37-point haul.
“He’s finding guys on the perimeter in transition,” said McMillan. “That’s hard [to stop] when you are sitting out there on an island all by yourself and you’re trying to keep Irving in front of you.”
Indiana forward Thaddeus Young said Irving’s play in the fourth quarter was the decisive factor in the game. “They put the ball in [Irving’s] hands and he makes things happen,” Young said. “He made some tough shots and that was the ending factor for us.”
Despite blowing a 12-point fourth-quarter lead, the Pacers appeared primed to even the series when Wesley Matthews and Bojan Bogdanovic combined for a trio of three-pointers in a 70-second spurt, allowing Indiana to retake a 91-89 advantage with 2:16 to go.
However, Jayson Tatum buried a go-ahead three-pointer from a Jaylen Brown pass with 50.8 seconds remaining as the Celtics resisted the Pacers’ final flurry.
The Boston forward finished the night with 26 points on 11-of-20 shooting, including 3-of-6 from three-point range.
“Coming down the court, [Jaylen Brown] could have shot the lay-up or tried to get fouled,” said Tatum. “But that was a hell of a pass from ‘JB’ so I had to knock [the shot] down.”
Game 3 takes place in Indianapolis in the early hours of Saturday morning (1:30am).