As Sports Illustrated’s Ben Golliver notes, Irving’s scoring numbers increase across the board when facing elimination. In the past four elimination games against the Warriors, Irving is averaging 32.5 points per game on 53.3 percent shooting (55.2 percent from 3-point range). Klay Thompson has made life difficult for Irving throughout the series, but when the Cavs can put Irving in a position to score on another switching or helping defender, he’s feasting.
Will elimination game Kyrie emerge from the tunnel? Or will it be the guy who shot a combined 18 of 45 at Oracle in Games 1 and 2? The Cavs are hoping to see the former. At least he’ll have some help from this guy.
Irving made the second choice. He caught a quick-hit pass for a layup on the next possession. He added an and-one layup next. Then a jumper. Then a 3-pointer with 0.5 seconds to go that capped a 40-point quarter for the Cavs and helped generate a 112-99 Cleveland victory.
Irving had 39 of his postseason career-high 42 points at that point, part of a ridiculous three-game stretch in which he’s 33 of 48 — or 68.8 percent – from the floor. That includes a 15-of-22 shooting effort in Game 4 that helped give the Cavaliers a commanding 3-1 lead in the series, which returns to Boston for Game 5 on Thursday.
Taking over the third quarter wasn’t even the most important role Irving played Tuesday. LeBron James picked up his fourth foul with 6:46 to play in the second quarter and went to the bench. Cleveland was trailing by 10 points at the time. Irving’s steady hand kept that deficit from getting out of control.